Cindy Tananis on Being More Efficient and Effective

Greetings, Colleagues! I am Cindy Tananis, Director of the Collaborative for Evaluation and Assessment Capacity (CEAC) in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh (

Like many evaluation contractors, independent contractors and those in academic settings, the financial crisis looming over many not-for-profit and educational ventures, has hit our client base hard.  Evaluation is too often viewed as the not-so-welcomed distant relative when considering the party list, especially as funds become increasingly limited.  Yet, evaluation often is not only necessary, but can become an important ally in the quest for continued program funding.

So, how do we make ourselves more efficient, more effective, and more marketable – and useful – to our potential clients?  Here are few suggestions from a recent Roundtable discussion at AEA 2011!

Hot Tips Refine – Reframe – Extend – Expand

Be more efficient.  (Perhaps this is the time to reinvent that lengthy report writing procedure into a more efficient “at a glance” summary?)

Better align services with potential client needs (“evaluation” becomes “fine tuning based on quality information”)

Offer additional services that have lower upfront costs (online training modules, online newsletters, and more)

Focus on what the client needs, rather than what the evaluator does (“data for decision making” morphs into conflict resolution)

Market what we do — better:  reward existing clients, encourage referrals and networking, alert potential clients about funding opportunities, help clients partner with each other to seek funding.

Manage creatively:  redistribute work and resources, remain flexible as well as lean, feed the strengths, eliminate the weaknesses, capitalize on hidden opportunities (silver linings!) among the clouds.

Rad Resource:  For more information, review the session handout available in the AEA public eLibrary.

Have suggestions of your own? Please add them to the comments for this post to extend the discussion.

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to

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