How will you know if you're making a difference?
We evaluate to help us understand if we are making a difference. Evaluation is a process that does not simply happen ‘at the end’ but is planned and systematic. The knowledge generated through evaluation can support, improve and demonstrate the impact of a service, strengthening the evidence base for the whole sector.
Disseminating evidence and sharing back- essential to the journey to better outcomes
When you evaluate you facilitate feedback, make judgments, enable improvements and generate evidence on what works for whom and under what circumstances.
Sharing findings with those who may affect or be affected by this information is critical to our collective journey to better outcomes.
Remember: In the likely event that some strategies are not working as well as you’d hoped, revisit Identify and Design and try something new. These processes are iterative and it might take a few goes to get it right!
Evaluation doesn’t simply happen ‘at the end’
There are a range of different evaluation approaches that can help to answer different questions throughout the Outcomes Journey:
- During the Identify phase, you may ask: What are the needs of people, clients and community and what context may influence them? Consider: Needs Analysis (a range of approaches)
- During the Design phase, you may ask: Which practice or program is suitable in meeting the needs of clients, community and stakeholders? What does the evidence say? Consider: Formative Evaluation (a range of approaches), Developmental Evaluation
- During the Implement phase, you may ask: Is the practice or program effective? Was it implemented as intended? What factors led or contributed to change (or lack of change)? Was it implemented in an efficient manner? Consider: Impact Evaluation (e.g. RCTs or Realist Evaluation), Economic Evaluation (a range of approaches).
Reflect and Review
Effective practice is supported by a process of learning and continuous improvement: regularly take time out to Reflect and Review all the way through!
It is good practice to set up regular ‘check-in’ points to consider the data you have collected and how it can be used to strengthen your program or service. Start by asking:
- What happened?
- So what?
- Now what?
Here are some Reflect and Review tools to get you started.