Program Evaluation: a Plain English Guide

This 11-step guide defines program evaluation, what it is used for, the different types and when they should be used. Also covered is how to plan a program evaluation, monitor performance, communicate findings, deliver bad news, and put improvements into practice.

This resource and the following information was contributed to BetterEvaluation by Dana Cross, Grosvenor Management Consulting.

Authors and their affiliation

Dana Cross, Grosvenor Management Consulting

Year of publication


Type of resource


Key features of the resource (summarise the purpose/focus of the resource or its key content/messages)

An easy to read and understand guide on tried-and tested program evaluation practices including:

  • the what and why of program evaluation
  • how to articulate the workings of your program using program theory and program logic
  • tools available for planning your program evaluation
  • how to monitor program performance
  • ways to communicate your findings

This resource illustrates the practical, hands-on information that is particularly useful to program managers. It includes how-to-guides, diagrams and examples to understand and start implementing program evaluation in real life.

Who is this resource useful for?

  • Advocates for evaluation
  • Commissioners/managers of evaluation

How have you used or intend on using this resource? (In what ways have you used the resource? What was particularly helpful about it?)

Program evaluation can be daunting for program managers approaching it for the first time.

Program evaluators and managers have found this a particularly useful resource to share with peers and stakeholders who are new to evaluation; it provides a good introduction to what program evaluation might involve as part of the management and assessment of program performance. 

Why would you recommend it to other people?

This nuts-and-bolts guidance on the key components of program evaluation avoids jargon and provides a very practical way forward for implementation of the evaluation.


  • What is program evaluation?
  • Understanding which programs to evaluate
  • When is the best time for program evaluation?
  • Program theory and program logic: articulating how your program works
  • Types of program evaluation
  • Tools for planning program evaluation A: Evaluation framework
  • Tools for planning program evaluation B: Evaluation plan
  • How is your program going... really? Performance monitoring
  • Communicating your program evaluation findings effectively
  • Breaking bad news
  • Putting improvements into practice


Cross, D. (2015) Program Evaluation: a Plain English Guide. Grosvenor Management Consulting