AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Feb/18

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SEA PD Week: Enhancing Data Collection Through Effective Stakeholder Relationships by Jennifer Johnson

Hi, I am Jennifer Johnson. I am the Director of the Division of Public Health Statistics and Performance Management for the Florida Department of Health. I want to discuss how improving stakeholder relationships can improve data collection.

In most evaluations, collection of quantitative and qualitative data forms a critical aspect of stakeholder engagement and relationships. Methods for collecting both types of data can include structured interviews, surveys, and file reviews. Evaluators also analyze data sets that vary in number and types of variables and formats.

Ultimately, however, key stakeholders provide the data. Thus, effective relationships with key stakeholders can be the lifeline to the data upon which a strong evaluation depends.

Whether participation is voluntary or contractually required, evaluators can adopt practices throughout evaluations that enhance stakeholder engagement specific to data collection. These practices foster effective and clear communication and help evaluators to establish trust.

Hot Tips:

  1. Communicate with Leadership. Initiate engagement with the executive leadership of stakeholder organizations, unless the evaluator has identified specific individuals. Give stakeholder leadership the opportunity to establish parameters and requests for communication throughout the evaluation. These parameters should identify those individuals or groups to always keep informed. Follow up by clarifying what the rules of engagement will be. Ensure that members of the evaluation team follow this agreement.
  1. Communicate Early. Be forthcoming and transparent from the beginning. Clearly communicate the evaluation scope at initial meetings. Specify data and data collection method that the evaluator may request from stakeholders. Inform stakeholders at this stage whether they will have an opportunity to review and discuss preliminary results and conclusions based on their data.
  1. Communicate Specifics. Develop clear and thorough processes for collecting data. Develop and submit data requests that clearly articulate and specify the requested data and information. Include specific variables when requesting databases. Include specific and clear instructions for submitting data. Provide an easy and convenient method for feedback and questions. Set reasonable deadlines and consider stakeholder organizational factors, such as crunch times staffing, and workload issues. If possible, modify data requests based on extenuating circumstances or to ease the burden on the stakeholder.
  1. Communicate Strategically. Data exchanges goes in both directions. Identify opportunities to answer stakeholder questions or provide information. Share results and information that could benefit stakeholders, but only if that sharing does not compromise the evaluation or use additional resources. This could include information that helps stakeholders address organizational problems or improve performance.

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA) Affiliate Professional Development Week with our colleagues in the SEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from SEA Affiliate members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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