Reviews and evaluations are an essential part of managing a project because they tell us what works and what doesn’t work so we can continuously improve projects and build on our successes.
A ‘review’ is an assessment of a project (or a component) while it is being implemented. It is helpful at any stage of a project to provide a snapshot of performance at a certain point in time typically mid-term) and ensure the project is on track. Reviews are usually less formal than evaluations and are often not published.
Reviews of a portfolio of projects are often used to inform a new phase of a project or the design of new projects. We use the term ‘evaluation’ to describe an assessment of a project over its duration and after it has ended. An evaluation assesses whether the project has made the difference it was intended to make. Evaluations are independent, more formal than reviews and are often published.
Future Partners reviews and evaluates projects for organisations that want to:
improve their current projects
understand what they can learn from projects to improve their future work
demonstrate their projects are successful in supporting applications for additional funding
demonstrate to their stakeholders that their projects are making progress
help them make decisions about future investments or another phase of the project
assess the difference that their projects have made to the lives of people and communities.
When we review or evaluate a project, we use international best practices and evaluation criteria set out by the OECD Development Assistance Committee.
We assemble a team that includes a MERL expert, one or more of our subject-matter
experts, and an in-country consultant who knows the local context, stakeholders, and issues. It takes time to build people’s trust such that they feel comfortable talking to strangers about their experiences of a development project. We take time to listen and make people feel valued. We are caring, authentic, and professional.
We are experienced in conducting a variety of reviews and evaluations that:
use OECD DAC evaluation criteria and principles to assess and determine the merit or worth of an activity, policy strategy, or programme
identify the appropriate methodology (e.g. UFE, participatory, developmental) for the type of review or evaluation that is required (e.g. process or impact)
are robust and independent and provide information about what works, and what does not and why
ensure the usability of findings, recommendations, and learnings to improve the development and effectiveness of aid investments, and to help donors, implementing partners, and partner country governments with programme policy and planning. (Note that for strategic evaluations, it is useful to have a person with experience as a senior government official or minister as a consultant and evaluator).
Ethics and integrity are the foundation principles that guide Future Partners. As a member of two professional evaluation associations (AES and ANZEA), I am committed to abiding by their codes of ethical conduct. I am experienced with balancing the need for independent evaluations and reviews along with participatory input from clients. Dr Elisabeth Poppelwell.
Our project review and evaluation services involve:
articulating the purpose of the review or evaluation, and designing the methodology
designing the questions that the review and evaluation will answer
undertaking a review of written documents to provide background information, context and progress made towards results
developing and agreeing on a list of key informants, and seeking their permission to be involved
interviewing people related to the project and learning about the reasons why things happened and how the project could be better
comparing the project’s MERL framework, or equivalent results document, with information collected from interviews
checking the consistency of what informants tell us, to understand if we need to gather more information to ensure we have understood the full picture
developing clear, practical, useful recommendations that organisations can use to improve the project or future projects
writing a report in plain English.
In addition to reviews and evaluations, audits can be undertaken to validate reports. These are typically done of finances, management systems, or assets. International finance institutions, like the World Bank, use review audits to analyse a project’s procedures, processes and financial reports against the requirements of the funder. It will also assess and comment on a project’s actual progress with its plans.
Read about how our project review and evaluation services have helped organisations learn about and improve their projects.