Welcome to the AEA365 Internal Evaluation (IE) week! I’m Boris Volkov, a Co-Chair of IE TIG; also, a Co-Director for Monitoring & Evaluation with the University of Minnesota Clinical and Translational Science Institute and a faculty at the UMN School of Public Health. During this week, our colleagues from evaluation units in different organizations will share their tips and lessons learned implementing internal evaluation. External evaluators, stay tuned! You too will find useful things here! Today I would like to talk about expectations and responsibilities as related to internal evaluation.
Lessons Learned: Keep mutual expectations clear and open. Ask program managers and other key stakeholders about their expectations for your M&E team. Share your own, explicit expectations for your collaborative work with organization/program staff. Mutually agree on what is important and feasible in your working relationships. Also, solicit regular feedback from the program staff about M&E processes and outcomes.
Lesson Learned: Keep your stakeholder analysis ongoing. The list of stakeholders (the key ones, too) may change at any time, which means that priorities for – and perceptions of – your M&E work could change significantly, too. You may hear some day something like this: “The person that authorized this data collection/analysis/reporting is no longer with our organization. We don’t care much about these data any longer, and you evaluators are wasting your and staff time!” No matter how carefully and sophisticatedly you planned and executed your evaluation activity, its process and results may be rejected or ignored by those who have no buy-in in it. I would argue that your M&E activity has not been properly planned or executed if you never considered or if you lost sight of key stakeholders.
Lesson Learned: Contribute to evaluation’s habituation (integrating and reinforcing the importance of evaluation AND organizational capacity to do and use evaluation). Both openly and subtly, build evaluation capacity in your organization on different levels: organizational, program, and individual. Openly, when the organization embraces the idea of Evaluation Capacity Building, and subtly, when the leadership and/or staff believe that evaluation is the prerogative and responsibility of the evaluators only, as opposed to the idea of M&E as a shared responsibility. Some of you have heard this from your program staff: “It’s not OUR job to evaluate. It’s YOUR (M&E) responsibility and skill to know what, how, and when measure! Don’t make your problem our problem!” Keep in mind the “personal factor” and look for “evaluation champions” in your organization.
Finally, in dealing with different “forces,” “powers,” and “sides” in your challenging evaluation work, I wish you one of my favorite wishes (from the famed Star Wars): “May the Force be with you!”
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Internal Evaluation (IE) Topical Interest Group Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IE TIG 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 email@example.com. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.