Evaluation is about working out whether a project is working or not – and what drives success or failure. It can be used to make decisions about developing current projects or learning lessons for the future. Our approach to evaluation starts with developing a “Theory of Change” where we identify what is expected to happen as a result of a project and what needs to change to make these results happen. We then use a range of approaches – both quantitative and qualitative – to assess the project. We can deliver reports at an early stage in the project – or we can look at the end to see what has been achieved.
We pride ourselves on our collaborative approach to working with clients. We are skilled at working closely with clients at all phases of the evaluation process. This extends from collaborating during the project design phase to develop Theories of Change that are embedded in our clients’ experience, and informed by our sector knowledge and reviews of the existing literature. Secondly, we work hard to develop tailored evaluation mechanisms that are both practical and feasible to implement within each client’s capacity, and also capture the key identified outcomes. Thirdly, we liaise closely with clients to develop findings into highly accessible formats geared towards a range of audiences.
Decisions about a policy need evidence about different options’ impacts. Appraisal seeks to provide such evidence, giving a balanced picture of the pros and cons of alternative policies. Appraisal may centre around an impact assessment, or use a cost-benefit analysis. There may be social or environmental impacts that need specific studies, perhaps using survey data. Assessing benefits or costs often will involve forecasting because options may have effects into the future. Key will be to synthesise across all the evidence.