In order to improve your project continuously during its implementation, you need data on which to base your decisions. These data are best provided by formative or process evaluation methods. Periodical reporting will enable you to assess the project in progress, make corrections or adjust its direction. You can monitor the process of project implementation and focus on the achievement of the objectives. Both intended and unintended (esp. unwanted) effects of the project must be observed and reported.
Important intermediate results will be presented at convenient intervals (e.g. 'milestone' meetings) and will contribute to assessing progress.
Periodical reporting can only improve the quality of the project if appropriately prepared information is given to the right people at the right time. If adjustments become necessary it must be clearly defined who has the responsibility and the competence to implement them.
Why you would disregard these aspects
- Continuous reporting requires discipline and resources – you consider this to be too much effort.
- You believe you have a clear overview of the project at all times and therefore do not need to write progress reports.
- You are happy with the acknowledgement you receive for your summary evaluations – but be aware that these do not indicate if there is potential for improvement that could still be made during the implementation.
What you have to gain
- You can judge if the implemented measures are appropriate for reaching your objectives and if necessary you can still modify them.
- You can learn from mistakes and also demonstrate successful elements of the project.
- You can continuously improve the quality of your project.
What you can actually do
Evaluation results must be presented in such a way as to be useful to the management of the project, i.e. they need to be concrete and about specific aspects of the project. What use you will eventually make of collected data is best defined early on – at least in broad terms – when you plan your evaluation.
Questions for critical reflection
- Can the evaluation method chosen show the effects that are achieved by the project?
- How are the results of the reports translated into action?
- Is the flow of information guaranteed and are all involved aware of their competences and their responsibilities?