Plan Step Four

PLAN - Step 4: Determine What Can/Should Be Evaluated

There is good reason to spend time mulling over and working on your programme theory; this leads to a markedly improved programme design and is a useful guide for the programme management.  Above all, you simply cannot evaluate a programme without understanding what it is supposed to do and achieve. If you have completed the previous three steps, or have a well developed Theory of Change and action plan/outcomes chain/log frame, you will be able to identify evaluation questions to guide the development of your Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) plan.  

"Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.”

John Turkey, statistician

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Monitoring & Evaluation Examples

Case Study: Evaluative Questions for New Beginnings Development Centre

In Plan: Step 4 we are expanding on the New Beginnings Development Centre case study which we have been referring to from Plan: Step 1.  We wanted to provide you with a birds-eye view of the entire programme, including the Action Plan and the Theory of Change (the log frame diagram prepared in Plan: Step 3). We also wanted to include evaluative questions below the diagram for each programme component.  To fit all of this onto one page we expanded our page margins to A3 paper size (297 x 420 millimetres). Because we could simply expand our log frame diagram it was quite easy to create this chart, but remember that this is only useful when you need to present it to others. We recommend you don’t spend too long  struggling with diagram design if you are only going to use this information to inform your indicators.

You will see that these initial questions will mostly be 'did this happen?' questions. This is very helpful as it implies that we can measure whether or not something has happened. This is the first part of the thinking required in identifying indicators, which we will do in Plan: Step 5. Once you are used to identifying indicators you will probably be able to skip this step altogether.  At this stage you are assuming that your outcomes chain is 'sound' - in other words, that one outcome will lead to the achievement of another.  However, when you evaluate, or while you are implementing your programme, you might notice that this is not the case or that you see some completely unexpected outcomes which did not even appear on your outcomes chain. At this stage you might want to add other evaluative questions which look to examine the how or why something in your programme is or is not working. If you already know of such questions, it is a good idea to add them to your list so that they can be included in budget considerations and planning. 

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