It is helpful to develop an initial description of the project, program or policy as part of beginning an evaluation. Checking this with different stakeholders can be a helpful way of beginning to identify where there are disagreements or gaps in what is known about it.
An overview of what’s being evaluated can include information on:
- The rationale: the issue being addressed, what is being done, who is intended to benefit
- The scale of the intervention, budget and resources allocated and stage of implementation
- The roles of partner organizations and other stakeholders involved in implementation
- The implications of contextual factors - geographic, social, political, economic and institutional circumstances can create opportunities or challenges
- Significant changes that have occurred over time - because of changes in contextual factors or lessons learnt
- Existing project description: using existing project descriptions of what is being evaluated.
- Peak experience description: describing a time when the project/program/policy worked particularly well. This option is part of the “Appreciative Inquiry” approach to evaluation.
- Thumbnail description: briefly describing the project/program/policy
- Appreciative Inquiry: a group process which allows an organisation to understand the best elements of itself in order to create a better future.