Program Evaluation: Use the Results
Communicating and disseminating the evaluation findings is a critical step in building support for utilizing those findings. Managers of the evaluation and evaluators should plan the reporting process as carefully as the evaluation itself, and build in opportunities to share findings with key stakeholders, such as staff and program implementers, prior to the final report.
Steps 12-14 will help you use the evaluation results to improve your program (learn more about the other steps in general program evaluations):
- Step 12: Determine Distribution of Final Report and Results and Distribute
- Step 13: Make, or Monitor the Making of, Decisions about the Program Based on the Evaluation Results
- Step 14: Establish/Update Program Records for Use in Future Evaluations
Send copies of the evaluation report(s) or notices of their availability to all of those who can use the results. This audience is not limited to the decision-makers who are waiting for the results to inform their decisions. It could also include stakeholders in the program and other program managers who might benefit from the findings.
- Make presentations as needed to decision makers, program staff, implementers, and stakeholders. Be proactive about getting the results noticed and utilized. The publicity given to the findings may help the program.
- Share lessons learned about the evaluation process with other program managers.
Step 13: Make, or Monitor the Making of, Decisions about the Program Based on the Evaluation Results
Use the results to make decisions to improve the program. Develop and implement a plan to assume ownership of the evaluation's results. Use the plan to improve program operations, inform decision-making, improve record keeping, and track progress.
If the results will inform decisions made by others, the results give you the opportunity to also supply them with plans for improving the program, if appropriate.
One of the PART Section IV (Program Results) questions asks, "Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies and cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?" Evaluation results can supply invaluable information that will help you answer this question in the affirmative.
One of the most common lessons learned from past EERE evaluations is the importance of establishing adequate program record keeping. Good program record keeping helps management monitor program progress and helps to reduce the cost of future general program evaluations. Use the experience in conducting the evaluation to improve program record keeping, e.g., customer contact information, outputs produced by market segment.
- Establish a database for the achievements and recommendations.
- Archive discussions of the problems encountered in the evaluation and how they were resolved.
- Archive the updated contact information on the individuals and organizations contacted.