Eleanor Williams is the Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Research Evidence at the Victorian Department of Health.
We’re currently going through a global period of rapid change and adaption, due in large part to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our lives and work. As our world is changing, many individuals and organisations are finding that traditional evaluation methods are not meeting the needs of rapidly changing implementation or brand new interventions where interventions are being designed as they are implemented. It’s in this context that it’s become important to use evidence and support learning in real-time.
Rapid Evaluation is an approach designed to quickly and systematically conduct an evaluation when time or resources are limited.
Real-time evaluation (RTE) has been practised and documented over the past 20 years, initially in humanitarian projects. There is now increasing interest in learning from this experience to inform evaluations in other areas, especially in development. This paper outlines the different ways in which RTE has been defined and is understood to work. It analyses how RTE is similar to and different from other approaches to supporting evidence-informed action. It discusses when it is appropriate to use RTE and what is needed to make it work well.
The work reported on in this paper has benefitted from a technical cooperation grant provided by Evaluation Department, Norwegian Agency for Development (Norad) to Better Evaluation. This work is a product of the staff of Better Evaluation with external contribution from Evaluation Department, Norad. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this work do not necessarily reflect the views of Norad.