Measuring Results

Everyone wants to do this. And everyone in the evaluation business has something to say about how to do it. So why not us too!

We believe the evaluation of results is less complicated than organizations make it. Of course, we know from experience that often evaluating our work is made cumbersome by funders and regulators, but for now let’s pretend they are not in the mix.

Here is how we approach the evaluation of results. We start with some simple questions.

1. What are you trying to accomplish for which people?
2. What are the measures that guide your work with these people?
3. What is the current benchmark of each of those measures?
4. What are your goals about surpassing the benchmark over what period of time?
5. What will indicate progress toward your goals?
6. What will you do to achieve the goals (strategies and actions) over what period of time?

Example: Answering the questions
To offer some clarity, let’s answer the questions above for a neighborhood-based employment program.

1. What are you trying to accomplish for which people?
We are trying to help unemployed people in the neighborhood find and keep decent jobs.

2. What are the measures that guide your work with these people?
The primary measures that will guide our work are the rate of employment in the neighborhood, the average and mean incomes of the neigborhood’s employed adults, and the average length of employment of the workforce.

3. What is the current benchmark of each of those measures?
Ok. Remember, we are making these numbers up. Currently, only 66% of adults in the neighborhood who want full time work have full time work. The average family income of current full-time workers is: $25,000. The average length of full-time employment is 14 months.

4. What are your goals about surpassing the benchmark over what period of time?
Our goals are to achieve 85% employment (full-time), average family income of $32,000, and average length of employment of 30 month by 2012.

5. What will indicate progress toward your goals?
Progress indicators include: numbers of adults returning to school for their high school diploma, and numbers of adults in employment training programs.

6. What will you do to achieve the goals (strategies and actions) over what period of time?
Here is where you develop your plans to achieve your answers to the previous five questions.

Yes, we know, life is more complicated than this. But our six questions can help get you started on the right course of becoming more results focused and being able to measure what you do.

There is more information we will provide about evaluation and measurement. So please come back again.

2 thoughts on “Measuring Results

  1. Excellent blog Mark.

    In communications, measurement is the piece of the puzzle that is often the most difficult to nail down because, as you pointed out, life is more complicated than that 🙂

    Do you have any suggestions on how to measure the less tangible things such as perception and opinions?

    The most effective way I have found is doing audience research to establish benchmarks and then following up with further research to try to measure movement. However, this is also an expensive way of doing things – often times non-profits don’t have the time or the financial resources. Thoughts?

    Like

  2. surveys often address positions, opinions, feelings, perceptions…brand surveys for example. Focus groups too. If I said telus gave me bad customer service is that an opinion or fact? Without examples to back it up, it is mostly just opinion… but even so… if i claim that i had to wait 30 minutes for help… we might agree that is bad service but if telus’s benchmark is no waits longer than 40 minutes they might see this is acceptable customer service… very contextual… ultimately most evaluation is about people’s experience of things which is always a mixture of fact, opinion and a certain measure of fiction! 🙂 Thanks for commenting on my blog.

    Like

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