15.1.2 What is evaluation?
Evaluation is an objective assessment of the design, implementation and results of an ongoing or completed project. Evaluations can be conducted during or at the end of the project period, depending on the purpose of the evaluation. Unlike monitoring, which should be done frequently, evaluation involves collecting data or undertaking surveys at particular points during a project (Figure 15.2). This will include baseline data collected at the start and follow-up data collected during or at the end of the project. Baseline data provides information about the situation before the project began which can then be compared with the follow-up data collected later. This comparison means that the effects of the project activities can be measured.
Evaluation also provides information that can help decision makers when planning new initiatives. Reflections on lessons learned from past successes and failures can be very helpful when planning future interventions. Unlike monitoring, evaluation of a project is usually done by an independent individual or firm in order to provide managers and staff with an objective assessment of the project. The aim of evaluation is to determine the efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of a project, and whether it has met its objectives.
In summary, monitoring and evaluation are important management tools for providing information that can help to inform decisions, improve performance and achieve planned results.