Lifting the quality of evaluation #1: Savvy clients

What key elements are needed to seriously drive up the quality and value for money delivered by evaluation?

Earlier this year at the Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association (anzea) conference, I reflected on this question and came up with three ingredients we should be thinking really hard about. Here’s one … (and watch this week for the sequels) …


  1. Savvy clients – informed, demanding consumers of evaluation work, who can and do:
  • figure out what the right piece of evaluation work is in the first place  – position it strategically, scope it clearly, and resource it right (and don’t overscope it – leave some room for discussion and negotiation!)
  • hire the right people for the job (based on a good understanding of what kinds of work need what kinds of skills and capabilities – no one evaluator can be all things to all people or is the right person for all jobs) using a sound non-onerous process
  • work effectively alongside evaluators to ensure information needs and expectations are clear and that the evaluation is on track to deliver those (but without micro-managing)
  • build in and drive utilization from inside the organization – set the evaluation up so it’s on the radars and destined to be used by the right people, and put a sound strategy in place to follow through and make sure this keeps happening once the main evaluation project is over

It seems to me that much of the focus on good/shoody evaluation tends to be focused on evaluator competencies. We tend to forget how the evaluation savviness of clients makes or breaks evaluation.

I have a lot more to say on this topic – as you’ll see in future weeks and months!

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