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Eva Guenther on Staying on Top of Evaluation When It is Not Your Primary Responsibility

My name is Eva Guenther, I am a Project Manager for a for-profit, employee-owned US Government (USG) contractor in Washington, DC. I am responsible for the successful implementation of USG funded projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). While my heart beats for evaluation it is not the primary focus of my role and responsibilities. Here are a few tips on how I support the local project teams from afar and ensure excellent data driven decision making and monitoring and evaluation happens on the projects.

Hot Tip: Establish a culture of data driven decision-making. Evaluation is often an afterthought and treated as if it were the sole the responsibility of the evaluation team rather than the entire project team. I try to set the expectations from the start that we should measure the outputs and outcomes for of all activities so that the team wants to know this data and proactively seeks it.

Hot Tip: Get involved early and set dates for revisits. After award I help operationalize our evaluation plan with the local team, work with them on regular data quality assurance activities and review evaluation data in regular reports to the client(s).

Hot Tip: Use web-based tools for data sharing. All project team members, often dispersed, should know the outputs and outcomes of project activities. Web-based tools make that easier. The company I work for has a proprietary project management tool that includes an evaluation module that facilitates easy capturing and sharing of evaluation data. This makes checking progress easy for everybody easy, including for myself from the US.

Hot Tip: Use data visualization. USG funded projects are heavy on narrative centric reports. I help our implementation teams on the ground to better tell the project’s story through data visualization and web-based interactive maps. This has led to deeper conversations as the information is more accessible. It also has led to outcome and impact data being shared outside the immediate project circle as it did not require a deep background on to understand it.

Rad Resource: Get inspired by others. There are a lot of brilliant minds out there so looking at other’s infographics has given me great ideas for how to explain a project output or outcome better with the help of an image. I have drawn lots of inspirations from these blogs:




Try out one of the free resources for how to create infographics: http://www.creativebloq.com/infographic/tools-2131971

Lessons Learned: Keep up-to-date with new developments in data collection. Mobile data collection, sentiment analysis and other approaches and tools can be helpful for the local teams where resources are often scarce.

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3 thoughts on “Eva Guenther on Staying on Top of Evaluation When It is Not Your Primary Responsibility”

  1. Thank you Eva for the detailed post. I am new to the world of evaluation so these tips are very valuable. I love the fact that you have added some resources that you have used to draw inspiration from. It’s so important to collaborate and to draw inspiration in a collaborative way. As a Teacher in the Middle East for the Elite Stream program, web-based tools are one of the most important ways we communicate with other teachers in the program. It’s amazing how the use of such tools can keep us connected with one another. I particularly enjoyed the emphasis you made on data driven decision-making. It’s so important for everyone involved in the program to bear the responsibility of the evaluation. Setting these expectations of measuring the outputs for all activities in the beginning is a great tip! Your point about the use of visualizations is very important! Often the results of an evaluation can be made more user friendly with the addition of infographics.

    Thanks for your insightful post.

  2. Thank you Eva for your post. Your article very much resonated with me – in my role at an elementary school evaluation is not my primary role, yet I know the importance of it in making informed decision on school policy. Data driven decision making is something that we are really striving to move front and center of all decisions. I think historically some of the leadership team were excellent at teaching kids, but when faced with making business decisions (I work at an independent school) actions were taken without due consideration to the data available. We are now collecting and tracking far more data than previously. Obviously student achievement data, but also program initiatives, admissions demographics etc. The data visualization you mentioned is definitely something I want to explore further as many of the meetings that I have been part of have had a fairly uninspiring set of visualizations – the odd bar graph if you’re lucky!
    Thanks for your post.

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