Monday, December 21, 2009

Internal Versus Enternal Evaluation

Should your organization outsource evaluation? Again, we favor a blended solution as discussed in the last post. Consider working with a consultant to set up an evaluation system for your organization but perform routine evaluation work on your own. If you decide to conduct a more comprehensive evaluation such as the one described in our previous post, call in that consultant to manage the project. The Kellogg Foundation has a worthwhile discussion on the topic which you'll find here. You'll find an even better one from Bernice Taylor Associates here.

There are two caveats. The first is that while a simple internal evaluation is entirely doable, few organizations are usually able to actually allocate the staff time to get one done. In most cases therefore it may pay to outsource the work. Most organizations want to spend on time with their participants not entering survey data or running analyses using Excel.

That said, distinguishing internal versus external evaluations may not really be the right way to think about the question of ‘who does the evaluation’. A good evaluator will work closely with program staff to make an evaluation a success so in this way there are both internal and external staff on the evaluation team. We have a lot to say on this subject and take it very seriously. Evaluation utilization is often founded on a collaborative approach that at times blurs the lines between an internal versus external study. To our thinking it’s more a question of accountability… who is responsible for project deliverables and this is usually a question of budget and organizational capacity. You may want to take a look at a white paper we have on this subject. You’ll find it here.

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