Evaluations are most useful when there is an evaluation team working together to produce a final report. One person may have overall responsibility for writing the evaluation, but the information gathered for the report should come from a range of places and people.
Factors to consider in the selection of an evaluator or project team include:
- Which staff or organisation members have the time and commitment to lead the project?
- Does the organisation have people skilled in designing and carrying out this project?
- Is an independent perspective required? The chances of ending up with bias in your final report may be reduced if you can access outside skills and knowledge
- Does the organisation have the resources or funding to pay an independent consultant?
For evaluations which provide feedback to the organisation on a single aspect of operations or a specific program, you may find that there are staff or volunteers keen to lead the project and develop their evaluation skills. There are many resources available to help beginners. If the evaluation is more comprehensive, or intended to underpin a major restructuring of the organisation or program, an independent person may need to lead the project and provide the final recommendations to the board.
If your organisation does not have the finances to pay a consultant to lead the whole process, consider using a consultant for aspects of the evaluation which are particularly sensitive or liable to influence. These could include developing the design or the performance indicators, conducting a focus group, or analysing the results of a questionnaire.
If you decide to engage an independent consultant, you should put together a brief about the project and what kind of skills and experience you are looking for. Many organisations ask consultants to tender for the project and interview relevant candidates to ensure they engage the right person or company. Once you have engaged the consultant of your choice, draw up a contract that outlines your expectations and everyone’s roles and responsibilities. Make the consultant an important member of your evaluation team and help them fulfill their role by communicating with them regularly.