Post-Eval Action Plan Week: Enhance Utilization with Post-evaluation Action Planning by Kylie Hutchinson

Hello! I’m Kylie Hutchinson (also known as @EvaluationMaven), an independent evaluation consultant with Community Solutions Planning & Evaluation and author of three evaluation and program planning books: A Short Primer on Innovative Evaluation Reporting, Evaluation Failures: 22 Tales of Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned, and Survive and Thrive: Three Steps to Securing Your Program’s Sustainability.

This week’s posts are devoted to examples of a simple, but rarely-used tool for encouraging the use of evaluation findings by decision-makers – the action plan.

As an evaluator I often ponder when our role as an evaluator should end on a project. Is it with the delivery of the final report? Or much later as one works with an organization to help them implement the recommendations? The finish line can be very blurry. But if increased utilization is the goal, the post-evaluation action plan is an easy, value-added option for evaluators to employ.

Rad Resource: There is no standard template for an action plan, but they usually contain the same core columns: Recommendation, Action steps, Timeframe, and Person Responsible. There are many examples of real-life post-evaluation action plans available. If you know of any others we should include, let us know!

Hot Tip: Here are a few tips for working with program staff to develop a post-evaluation action plan.

  • As part of your evaluation services, offer to prepare an action plan template and pre-populate it with the evaluation’s recommendations.
  • Offer to facilitate an action planning session yourself to move things forward. If you don’t feel confident facilitating one, find someone comfortable with group facilitation and/or strategic planning to help.
  • Use the Wandering Flipcharts technique to keep the process lively and engaging. Prepare one flipchart per recommendation with the action plan template and assign rotating groups to each.
  • Once an action plan is prepared, post a large version of it on the wall and hold short weekly stand up meetings to monitor progress. This provides a physical and highly visible home for the action plan.

Rad Resource: Some organizations, such as the International Labour Organization, have instituted formal policies requiring a management response to evaluation recommendations. The Independent Evaluation Group at the World Bank uses a Management Action Record Database to capture the implementation progress of their action plans. The Multnomah County Auditor also has an interactive website that tracks on the implementation status of each of their performance audit recommendations. Talk about facilitating use!

Although management response action plans are commonly used among government institutions, they can also be useful for smaller evaluations as well.  

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Post Evaluation Action Planning Week. All posts this week are contributed by evaluators who came together to write about a simple, but rarely-used tool for encouraging the use of evaluation findings by decision-makers – the action plan. 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.

1 thought on “Post-Eval Action Plan Week: Enhance Utilization with Post-evaluation Action Planning by Kylie Hutchinson”

  1. Hi Kylie, I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I am currently working on my Masters of Education and I am taking a course on Program Evaluation. We learned the basics of how to create an evaluation plan and now we have been discussing evaluation uses, as well as dilemmas in evaluation use. How do you ensure when you are creating the action plan that you are not being influenced by your own ideas and biases? Do you ever find that stakeholders feel that you are being biased? How do you deal with this? You mentioned that action plans are rarely used – perhaps especially by smaller company evaluations; do you find stakeholders often no longer want you involved with their programs anymore once the evaluation report is done, and is this why action plans are often not created? Do you think stakeholders may attempt to create their own action plans, without the help of the evaluator?
    We are also currently looking at ways to analyze data, do you have any tips to ensure when you are analyzing data to reduce subjectivity that create biases?
    Evaluation is an intricate and fascinating process, once you have evaluated a program once, have you been asked to evaluate it a second time? Is it a good idea for programs to have the same evaluator evaluate their program multiple times? Or would it be more beneficial for “a fresh set of eyes” to do an evaluation of the program. Do programs ever have more than one evaluator evaluating their company separately, and then have both evaluators compare results?
    Have you ever had stakeholders become frustrated with you because they don’t agree with the results of evaluation? Or perhaps they are unsure of how to implement the action plan; therefore, they blame you for not having ‘good enough’ results for them to use?
    Thank you,
    Laurie

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