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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “SEA PD Week: Enhancing Data Collection Through Effective Stakeholder Relationships by Jennifer Johnson”

  1. Hi Jennifer, my name is Adrien Poudrier and I’m a first-year graduate student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, currently studying program inquiry. Understanding the importance of stakeholder engagement in any evaluation, I enjoyed reading your article as I felt it gave a lot of helpful and relevant information regarding the improvement of relationships between evaluator and stakeholder and the collection of data.

    Recognizing that communication is one of the fundamental components of evaluator/stakeholder relationships, I appreciated your hot tips on how to effectively communicate with stakeholders during an evaluation. Your suggestions to communicate with leadership, early, specifically, and strategically are excellent ideas that will enhance not only stakeholder engagement but also the ability for the evaluator to collect data. When it comes to data collection you mention that qualitative and quantitative data can be collected from “structured interviews, surveys, and file reviews” and that “evaluators also analyze data sets that vary in number and types of variables and formats.” Realizing these are excellent ways to collect data, I was wondering if you had any other suggestions or methods to help with the collection of both qualitative and quantitative data, which ones are most effective, and any negative consequences each data collecting method can present?

    Also, you mention that “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.” Knowing that the data provided will be obtained from stakeholders, how can we reduce the risk of obtaining biased data above and beyond creating positive relationships and establishing trust with stakeholders in order to conduct an ethical evaluation?

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback on these issues.

    Best Regards,

  2. Hi Jennifer,
    I agree that both quantitative and qualitative data is imperative in stakeholder engagement and relationships. I’ve created an evaluation plan to look at mental health services to a small, rural high school that has had several concerns for students’ mental health. There are many organizations or stakeholders that along with students have helped to create further research to assist in care and offer support in the school and community.
    Your points, all about communication are very informative. 1. Have the stakeholder leaders create parameters that inform individuals and groups. Clarify the rules of engagement. Have members follow the agreement. 2. Be transparent in communicating. Outline the scope of the evaluation plan early on. Specify the data collection to stakeholders and inform them of their involvement. 3. Collecting data should outline specific variables. Identify an easy way for feedback and questions. Create deadlines in coordination with stakeholders. Be open to date changes for data collections. 4. Share results that will help stakeholders address organizational problems or improve performance.

    I agree that communication is the key component while working with other stakeholders. Being flexible, transparent and considering the needs of all involved is important while collecting and sharing data. Both qualitative and quantitative data forms such as interviews, surveys, file reviews and trailing data will help to inform the stakeholders and the evaluation process.

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