How Evaluation Projects Get Done Matters!


How Evaluation Projects Get Done Matters


Whether one is managing a multi-site evaluation with a budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars and supervising staff, or if one is working alone as a consultant on a five thousand dollar contract with a small nonprofit agency, in both cases how the work gets done matters. How evaluation projects get done influences the quality of the outputs of this type of work and the perceived credibility of the results of this work for clients, program participants and the public. This blog will focus on the project management principles and tools that have been implemented in our company in order to improve the quality of evaluation services. Project management ideas are from the perspective of doing the work of evaluation as a type of ongoing “professional service”.
Here are a list and description of project management principles and/or tools that a small, professional evaluation services firm has implemented to improve the quality of services, deliverables, and client satisfaction.

4 Point Meeting Process

The 4 Point Meeting Process has been developed to improve the quality of our evaluation services. This process includes points of communication/reflection during the project life cycle to a) have structured opportunities to learn about the process of evaluation, to share our challenges and improve our performance, b) keep everyone involved in the project informed and “on the same page” regarding purpose, scope, progress, messages to be shared and lessons learned, and c) provide a consistent approach for communication across projects (although the focus is on the individual project).

The 4 Points of Project “Briefings”:
1. Evaluation/Project work plan “kickoff” (within a month of contract awarded)
2. Mid-project (6 month?) briefing on work plan progress
3. Pre-report discussion and review of findings and main “messages” (approx. 1 month before draft for internal review is due)
4. End of year/end of project debrief to review “lessons learned.”

Project Performance Indicators

Performance indicators consist of various specific measurement tools for indicating how well teams are achieving specific goals. LeCroy & Milligan Associates has developed and implemented a set of Project Performance Indicators that have been agreed upon all parties before a project begins. Performance indicators must be shared, measurable and analyzed across all aspects/divisions of the firm. Overall, Performance Indicators will reflect the critical success of the firm.

Project Management Templates

Project Charter: A Project Charter is a document or template that formally authorizes the start of a new or continuing project and provides the Project Manager and the team guidance on carrying out the project. It is used both internally in the firm to establish internal agreements, such as the roles and responsibilities of the team, what are the goals/objectives of the project, what are the deliverables, etc. The Project Charter can also be used externally to establish the partnership between the service firm and the client. In this case, the Project Charter is not the contract. A formal contract is typically the appropriate way to establish an agreement. LeCroy & Milligan Associates is currently using the Project Charter for internal purposes only.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) or Project Task Timeline: A work break down structure in project management is a deliverable-oriented decomposition of a project into smaller, more manageable components. The benefit of a WBS is that it provides a structured vision of what has to be delivered. The WBS is essential as part of a project’s lifecycle, timeline and project planning. It begins with a designated timeline set by the Project Manager. The WBS helps to define the specifics of the project to be able to successfully complete the project.

Project Management Software

Project Management software can dramatically improve the productivity of various types of projects, large or small. Project Management software is beneficial in delivering a successful project, which then leads to client satisfaction. Utilizing the software can avoid missing deadlines, keeping the work and team organized and capture every detail of the work. Project management software also allows the generation of reports such as Project Status Reports, Project Progress Reports, and many more. These reports are great tools for not only the Project Manager or Project Team, but to the firm as a whole. LeCroy & Milligan Associates has implemented Zoho Projects, which makes project planning efficient and productive. Zoho, in particular, allows project managers and the project team to quickly define task lists, tasks, set dependencies and more. LeCroy & Milligan Associates is currently investigating how best to learn from the PM reports, dashboards, etc.

About the Author:
Ms. Valenzuela brings a unique set of skills to LeCroy & Milligan Associates as Operations Manager. With over 12 years’ experience at LeCroy & Milligan Associates, she has been involved in over 100 evaluation projects in a variety of roles including Data Manager, Evaluation Associate, field data collector. Currently, she serves on the management team, trains and supervises staff in Project Management methods and coordinates workflow and deliverables across all projects.

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How Evaluation Projects Get Done Matters!


How Evaluation Projects Get Done Matters


Whether one is managing a multi-site evaluation with a budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars and supervising staff, or if one is working alone as a consultant on a five thousand dollar contract with a small nonprofit agency, in both cases how the work gets done matters. How evaluation projects get done influences the quality of the outputs of this type of work and the perceived credibility of the results of this work for clients, program participants and the public. This blog will focus on the project management principles and tools that have been implemented in our company in order to improve the quality of evaluation services. Project management ideas are from the perspective of doing the work of evaluation as a type of ongoing “professional service”.
Here are a list and description of project management principles and/or tools that a small, professional evaluation services firm has implemented to improve the quality of services, deliverables, and client satisfaction.

4 Point Meeting Process

The 4 Point Meeting Process has been developed to improve the quality of our evaluation services. This process includes points of communication/reflection during the project life cycle to a) have structured opportunities to learn about the process of evaluation, to share our challenges and improve our performance, b) keep everyone involved in the project informed and “on the same page” regarding purpose, scope, progress, messages to be shared and lessons learned, and c) provide a consistent approach for communication across projects (although the focus is on the individual project).

The 4 Points of Project “Briefings”:
1. Evaluation/Project work plan “kickoff” (within a month of contract awarded)
2. Mid-project (6 month?) briefing on work plan progress
3. Pre-report discussion and review of findings and main “messages” (approx. 1 month before draft for internal review is due)
4. End of year/end of project debrief to review “lessons learned.”

Project Performance Indicators

Performance indicators consist of various specific measurement tools for indicating how well teams are achieving specific goals. LeCroy & Milligan Associates has developed and implemented a set of Project Performance Indicators that have been agreed upon all parties before a project begins. Performance indicators must be shared, measurable and analyzed across all aspects/divisions of the firm. Overall, Performance Indicators will reflect the critical success of the firm.

Project Management Templates

Project Charter: A Project Charter is a document or template that formally authorizes the start of a new or continuing project and provides the Project Manager and the team guidance on carrying out the project. It is used both internally in the firm to establish internal agreements, such as the roles and responsibilities of the team, what are the goals/objectives of the project, what are the deliverables, etc. The Project Charter can also be used externally to establish the partnership between the service firm and the client. In this case, the Project Charter is not the contract. A formal contract is typically the appropriate way to establish an agreement. LeCroy & Milligan Associates is currently using the Project Charter for internal purposes only.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) or Project Task Timeline: A work break down structure in project management is a deliverable-oriented decomposition of a project into smaller, more manageable components. The benefit of a WBS is that it provides a structured vision of what has to be delivered. The WBS is essential as part of a project’s lifecycle, timeline and project planning. It begins with a designated timeline set by the Project Manager. The WBS helps to define the specifics of the project to be able to successfully complete the project.

Project Management Software

Project Management software can dramatically improve the productivity of various types of projects, large or small. Project Management software is beneficial in delivering a successful project, which then leads to client satisfaction. Utilizing the software can avoid missing deadlines, keeping the work and team organized and capture every detail of the work. Project management software also allows the generation of reports such as Project Status Reports, Project Progress Reports, and many more. These reports are great tools for not only the Project Manager or Project Team, but to the firm as a whole. LeCroy & Milligan Associates has implemented Zoho Projects, which makes project planning efficient and productive. Zoho, in particular, allows project managers and the project team to quickly define task lists, tasks, set dependencies and more. LeCroy & Milligan Associates is currently investigating how best to learn from the PM reports, dashboards, etc.

About the Author:
Ms. Valenzuela brings a unique set of skills to LeCroy & Milligan Associates as Operations Manager. With over 12 years’ experience at LeCroy & Milligan Associates, she has been involved in over 100 evaluation projects in a variety of roles including Data Manager, Evaluation Associate, field data collector. Currently, she serves on the management team, trains and supervises staff in Project Management methods and coordinates workflow and deliverables across all projects.

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