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Project Evaluation: What It Is and How To Do It

If you are a project manager seeking to analyze goals, objectives and outcomes, consider implementing project management to determine the success and impact of your projects. Different types of project evaluation provide insight and reveal areas that may need improvement. Learning how to implement project evaluation processes into your workflow produces great organizational benefits. In this article, we discuss project evaluation and how to implement it in your projects.

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What is project evaluation?

Project evaluation is a strategy used to determine the success and impact of projects, programs, or policies. It requires the evaluator to gather important information to analyze the process and outcome of a certain project. Project evaluation prompts changes in internal workflow, detects patterns in the target audience of the project, plans for upcoming projects or reports the value of projects to external stakeholders.

Related: Who Are Stakeholders In A Business?

What are the principles of project evaluation?

There are several principles of project evaluation that ensure evaluations are credible and contribute to the overall success of the organization. These principles provide a foundation that guides the evaluation process from start to finish. Project evaluation principles include:

  • Seek to improve performance: Your team learns new methods from each evaluation which can contribute to the continual improvement of your practices.

  • Contribute to organizational learning: Creating a habit of feedback may foster constant learning and organizational growth.

  • Share project participation: Distributing the results of the project evaluation to stakeholders increases the level of participation from others outside your team, which communicates transparency and reliability.

  • Focus on results: Practicing regular evaluations may help to direct your projects towards achievable results.

  • Build relationships with stakeholders: Involving stakeholders in each process of project evaluations can deepen their trust in you and your team’s abilities.

  • Use credible processes: When conducting a project evaluation, it is important to use verifiable and reliable processes, practices and strategies.

  • Conduct evaluations ethically: Selecting and implementing a style of project evaluation requires careful attention to ethics for the sake of your employees and the sensitivity of the project.

  • Evaluate continually: Building an organizational habit of evaluation serves to equip and improve teams and project outcomes.

Types of project evaluation

The following are common types of project evaluation to implement in your projects:

Pre-project evaluation

Before beginning a project, your team could evaluate whether it is feasible to complete successfully. This often takes place naturally in the developmental stage of projects and is crucial for the effective execution of the project. It is important that all involved are aware of the objectives and goals before work begins.

Ongoing evaluation

Throughout the life cycle of the project, you may use metrics to verify completed tasks. This includes budget, percentage of completed tasks and the overall quality of the work delivered so far. Try to remain focused on your original objectives and goals as the project is underway, so your team remains on track.

Post-project evaluation

After the project is complete, it is important to analyze the outcomes and impacts of the project. Outcomes help measure how effective the project was in meeting the objectives and goals set at the beginning. Impacts may determine how successful the project was in creating a tangible change for the target audience.

Self-evaluation

At any point in the life cycle of the project, an individual can conduct a self-evaluation. Self-evaluation analyzes if their work is contributing to greater objectives and goals. Recognizing strengths and weaknesses, measuring their successes, and determining the scope of their impact can increase their ability to work effectively as part of the team.

External evaluation

Another option is hiring external agencies to perform evaluations for your projects. These agencies typically have no prior connection or involvement in the project, leading to a high level of impartiality when conducting the evaluation and concluding. External evaluation is valuable for projects that include a large number of stakeholders or have several moving pieces.

What are the benefits of performing a project evaluation?

Benefits of performing a project evaluation range from internal growth to external success. The benefits of project evaluation include:

  • Tracks team performance: Keep records of past evaluations to track progress over a series of projects.

  • Highlights the areas that need improvement: Noticing trends and patterns leads to an understanding of how the team can improve.

  • Measures the tangible impact of the project: Your team is able to see the impact of the project in the public sphere with actual metrics and feedback to quantify it.

  • Incorporates stakeholders in the process: Involving important stakeholders reassures them of the quality of the completed, evaluated projects.

  • Facilitates team reflection and accountability: While striving to improve, team members hold each other and themselves accountable.

  • Sharpens the planning process based on past evaluations: Plan for upcoming projects based on newfound knowledge of how the team functions.

How to complete a project evaluation

Project evaluation requires planning and implementation. The following is a list of steps to take to complete an evaluation for your project:

1. Create an evaluation plan

Create goals and objectives as you develop your project to provide structure and a clear trajectory for your team. These goals and objectives also help you determine which type of project evaluation you want to carry out. Your evaluation plan includes as many tools and methods as you deem necessary for the type of evaluation you choose. For example, if one goal is to increase employee productivity, analyzing metrics of task completion is a tool of evaluation that shows growth in productivity rates.

2. Identify the source of evaluation and get organized

Once you have decided on an evaluation plan, identify the sources of information. If you decided to conduct interviews, select all the people you want to interview. It is important to gather all the materials you need for each method, such as interview questions and a place to track and store responses. Delegate tasks or make a detailed timetable to further prepare for the implementation of your evaluation plan.

3. Implement the project evaluation

Implementing your evaluation plan may look different based on both the type of evaluation and the methods or tools you chose. The following is a list of what to focus on when implementing evaluations:

  • Pre-project evaluation: For a pre-project evaluation, try to focus on developing objectives and goals and evaluating the viability of the project.

  • Ongoing evaluation: If you are conducting an ongoing evaluation, you may monitor details like schedule, budget and quality of work.

  • Post-project evaluation: A post-project evaluation measures the project’s success based on both impact and outcome.

4. Analyze the data

After gathering all the data for your evaluation, analyze the data for trends, strengths and weaknesses, and how closely the project adhered to the goals and objectives. Depending on the type of data you gathered, use a tracking system for organization and storage. Then, use your team’s goals and objectives to interpret the data you collected.

Related: How Analyzing Data Can Improve Decision-Making

5. Develop a report for your team

Along with interpreting the data you collected, develop a report summarizing the results of the evaluation. Structure this report according to the needs of your team and stakeholders. This practice is valuable since the report might highlight areas that need improvement, showcase the intended and unintended impacts of the project and measure the extent to which your team met the goals and objectives.

Related: How To Write a Report for Work (With Examples)

6. Discuss next steps

Once your report is complete, it is ready to share with team members and stakeholders. Sharing the results of the project evaluation strengthens communication, prompts innovative suggestions for team improvement, builds stronger relationships with stakeholders, and guides on how to improve upcoming projects. By relaying the results of the project evaluation, a discussion begins about how to move forward based on the outcomes and impact of the project.

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