From the first step of the evaluation process, even though it may be one of the last evaluation tasks, explicitly discuss the content, sharing, and use of reports during the initial planning of the evaluation and return to the discussion thereafter. Most importantly, identify who your primary intended users are. Use of the evaluation often depends on how well the report meets the needs and learning gaps of the primary intended users.
Besides the primary intended users (identified as part of framing the evaluation), your findings can be communicated to others for different reasons. For example, lessons learned from the evaluation can be helpful to other evaluators or project staff working in the same field; or it may be worthwhile remolding some of the findings into articles or stories to attract wider attention to an organisations’ work, or to spread news about a particular situation.
You will share the findings of the evaluation with the primary intended users and also other evaluation stakeholders.
Don’t limit yourself to thinking of sharing evaluation findings through a report. Although a final evaluation report is important it is not the only way to distribute findings. Depending on your audience and budget, it may be important to consider different ways of delivering evaluation findings:
- Presenting findings at staff forums and subject matter conferences
- Developing a short video version of findings
- Sharing findings on the organisation intra-net
- Sharing stories, pictures and drawings from the evaluation (depending on what options you have used to gather data)
- Creating large posters or infographics of findings for display
- Producing a series of short memos
Tasks related to this component include:
Identify the primary intended stakeholders and determine their reporting needs, including their decision-making timelines. Develop a communication plan.
Produce the written, visual, and verbal products that represent the program and its evaluation according to the communication plan. Graphic design and data visualization can be applied to emphasize key pieces of content and increase primary intended user engagement.
Review the reporting products to make sure they are accessible for those who are colorblind, low-vision, or reliant on an audio reader.
If part of the evaluation brief make recommendations, on the basis of the evaluation findings, about how the program can be improved, how the risk of program failure can be reduced or whether the program should continue.
Communicate the findings and recommendations but don’t stop there. As primary intended users reflect on the evaluation, facilitate the review to gather their feedback and guide their interpretations. Plan ways and time to check in on progress toward improvement. Look for opportunities to share the unique aspects of the program and its evaluation to external audiences.