Working Effectively in Evaluation

Evaluation in Complex Situations

It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it: Evaluation processes that deliver maximum impact and influence  

This was a presentation by Judy Oakden as an external evaluator and Clare Bear as a commissioner at the 2013 ANZEA Conference, in Wellington.

This case example from the Evaluation of the Sustainable Farming Fund shares practical tips about how usability was successfully built into the evaluation from the start, including: 

  • at the scoping, relationship building and contracting stages
  • in the way external evaluators engaged with commissioners to design a multi-purpose evaluation approach
  • the stance taken to project management and client engagement

planning communication processes from the outset, including how findings would be communicated with stakeholders.

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Using a Complementary Evaluation Approach

Complementary evaluation – bringing theory and practice together through relationship building

Presentation by Carol Much, Nicola Maw and Judy Oakden at the 2012 ANZEA Conference, in Hamilton.

Complementary evaluation is a valuable approach that not only meets demands for efficiency and effectiveness but also aligns with established good practice in evaluation. In particular, complementary evaluation facilitates relationship building and capacity building. This paper presented a theoretical perspective, an applied perspective and a “lived” perspective on the benefits of using this approach. This session was for people who commission evaluation, conduct evaluation and others who wanted to learn of ways of working in collaborative environments.

Experience has shown this way of working was:

  • authentic, enabling a wide range of people to engage in a fair and transparent process, and to come to well understood judgments about the evaluand
  • robust, as the best possible use of existing and new data is effectively navigated and multiple perspectives are valued in the data gathering
  • pragmatic, as the approach is easily implemented and flexible enough to adapt to the needs of different organisations, whilst keeping the integrity of the model itself.
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Approaches for Assessing Progress in Building Relationships

Quizzing Purposeful Relationships – What Is This Thing Called A ‘Working Relationship’? 

Presentation by Fiona Cram and Judy Oakden at the 2012 Australasian Evaluation Society International Conference in Adelaide, Australia.

How can relationships within a service providing organisation, and between service providers and funders be aligned for collaboration and service delivery synergies? This presentation introduced the idea of purposeful relationships. These occur where organisations (often service providers and government agencies) are genuinely and authentically able to engage, express views and be listened to, develop agreed understandings, work collaboratively and make joint commitments to reduce disparities. Purposeful relationships build over time, are robust and institutionally based, rather than being based on the interpersonal relationships between one or two people in the organisations.

This paper proposes that a questionnaire that specifically targets known aspects of relationships offers an important contribution to those charged with evaluating relationships within provider service provision evaluations.

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