For the love of…Process Evaluation!

There are a number of different types of evaluations – each helps paint a complete picture of program implementation and change processes.  I don’t have a favorite, but recently I’ve felt a kind of affinity for process evaluation.  

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So, what is process evaluation?

Process evaluation is a type of assessment that focuses on operations, implementation, and other aspects of service delivery.  It asks questions such as, “Is the program being implemented as it is designed or intended?” or “How relevant is the program to the community in which is it being implemented?” or “Are people satisfied with the program’s content and/or delivery?”  

These, in my opinion, are crucial questions.  Just as important as whether or not the program “worked” or if any outcomes can be reported.  Process evaluation findings can also help us maximize resources (by making sure we are efficient and thoughtful).  I really like the way process data is collected: interviews, reflection journals, focus groups, open-ended survey questions, etc.

I do a lot of long-term, systemic change work.  Outcomes and impact are both years away (at best), so I’m truly capturing data that help me explore accessibility, how culturally-informed programming is, and/or capture what’s worked well so far.  

How can I promote it in my next project?

It can be hard to introduce the concept of capturing the journey when folks are interested in the destination.  But, and I hope I’ve made a decent case thus far, that information can help with resource allocation, tracking staff time, and marketing the program – all things of interest to funders and decision-makers.  

“Is there any space in the workplan for assessing efficiency?  I think it would help a lot to know if we’re making the most of the resources we have.”

“I think it would be great if we could capture some participant and stakeholder experiences – they would be great to include in marketing materials and progress reports.  Perhaps we can include some focus groups in Phase One?”

“A lot of time when into creating these handouts – we should include some questions about how participants felt about them or if they shared them with anyone like we hoped.”

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