Design For Use
How to use your findings
Make sure your evaluation is used
Too often, evidence is gathered and evaluated poorly so that it is of little benefit, or it is not communicated well. This section provides tips and resources to make your evaluation useful and used. See here for advice on how to commission great evaluation.
Effective evaluation provides information to people who can use it to make better decisions. Their greater appreciation and understanding of issues helps them recognise and respond better to problems and make a greater difference in the world.
Michael Quinn Patton developed the concept of Utilization-Focused Evaluation (UFE), which is evaluation done for and with the people who will use it. UFE says evaluations should be judged by how useful they are and how they’re used. So plan evaluations carefully. Consider how everything, from beginning to end, will affect how everyday people – the users – apply the findings.
Top tips to support use of evidence and evaluation findings are as follows.
Identify evaluation users and what they want to know
Develop evaluation questions that reflect the perspectives, experiences and insights of as many relevant individuals, groups, participants and communities as possible. Identify the users of the findings and ask them these questions:
- What are their major evaluation questions?
- What decisions will they make with the answers to these questions?
- What are their preferences for how the evaluation is done (methods, language, communication of results etc)?
- When do they need the results, in order to influence decisions?
- What would help them to trust the evaluation’s results – what would robust data include and who should be involved?
Involve the right people in evaluation design and interpretation of findings
Recommendations from an evaluation with stakeholder involvement are more likely to be accepted, implemented more fully and meet less resistance. Engage intended evaluation users in the development of the key evaluation questions as well as reviews of preliminary and final findings.
When appropriate, involve intended users to develop recommendations and action plans to implement findings.
Create an evaluation brief
An evaluation brief provides an overview of what is expected in the evaluation. That is, its purpose and scope, the type of evaluation needed, main evaluation questions and available resources. The content and format for an evaluation brief varies by organization, local practices, or the type of assignment.
Regardless of who will conduct the evaluation, an evaluation brief is a useful document to guide the evaluation and communicate with others about it.
It can include the following:
- The activity, programme, service or policy to be evaluated.
- Existing data and information sources.
- The purpose, audience and use of the evaluation.
- The evaluation questions.
- The evaluation method/s to answer the questions.
- Evaluation team composition.
- Requirements for reporting and dissemination.
- A budget.
Do a data dress rehearsal
Get a group to look at the data to see what is available and what they can collect from an evaluation.
Test whether you are asking the right questions. This also prepares people to interpret the data and apply results.
Having a run-through of available data and how it can be used also sets realistic expectations about what the results will look like. It exposes strengths and limitations of the methods and data.
This kind of process can also build commitment (or expose lack of it) to use the evaluation findings.
TYPES OF EVALUATION
Types and their differences