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Project Evaluation Should Begin Early On

Posted on November 15, 2011

Abe Wandersman (bio) asserts that the logic and tools of evaluation, when introduced early on in a project, can facilitate planning, implementation, and continuous quality improvement.

 

In terms of the use of evaluation, the earlier you can bring in the logic and tools of evaluation, the less it's a "gotcha," and the more it is a helpful tool to help you actually reach results. So the logic and tools of evaluation, when they're brought in at the very beginning of a project, can be planning tools as well as implementation and implementation monitoring tools, as well as outcome tools, as well as continuous quality improvement feedback tools. So you can see what's going on all the way along the line.

One of the things that I'll often use as an example is, if you're in business, you don't wait until April 15th or April 14th of the year after your taxes are due to find out whether you made a profit or not. You need to know day in and day out at the end of each week what your cash flow is like. You can't wait for the outcome of the following year, or you'll be out of business. So evaluation in business is a natural activity. Unfortunately, evaluation in health and human services has not been a natural activity. We've been very much oriented to try to make it natural because you don't know how well things are working unless you look at how well things are working.

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Excerpted from interview with Dr. Wandersman at the 2011 Global Implementation Conference in Washington, DC.

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