3.7 Analysing and reporting the results
When planning what data to use in the evaluation it is helpful to consider how the data will be analysed. Usually, there are a lot of data, perhaps in several different forms. If you have set clear objectives, it should be possible to identify the data that are relevant to each issue. It is usual to follow the steps below:
consider numbers, for example how much has been achieved at what cost;
consider quality, whether appropriate and not too high or low;
seek out both positive and negative evidence;
make comparisons; and
look for patterns in the evidence.
It can be very time consuming to analyse data from interviews and observations but, if the purpose of the analysis is clear, then it is possible to focus only on the relevant material.
It may be that several different evaluation reports must be prepared on completion of a project:
the client/sponsor report;
what has been learnt from the project;
different types of evaluation report for different stakeholders.
For example, some funding bodies require to be told how their funding contributed to the success of a project, and so need a report relating only to one aspect. It is usually for the manager of a project to identify the number and types of report that are required, and to ensure that they are prepared and presented appropriately.
You need to consider the audience and use language that they will understand, avoiding unfamiliar jargon. The report is likely to include:
an executive summary;
an explanation of the background to the project;
an explanation of how the evaluation was planned;
the methods that were used to collect and analyse data;
a presentation of the evidence, and how it has been interpreted;
a conclusion, and recommendations for future practice.
If some aspects of the work encountered problems, be careful about identifying causes if there is an implication of blame. Sometimes it is better to discuss problems that have implications for contractual relationships in confidential reports or face-to-face meetings. Consider how to present the report in a businesslike and attractive format appropriate for its audience.