An evaluation reference group is a very useful forum that can offer rich insight and advisory support to the evaluator in any evaluation project. The ERG is typically composed of key internal and external stakeholders who will have some form of knowledge and understanding about the evaluation project and the organisation for which the evaluation projects are undertaken. Establishing an ERG is a good strategy to ensure that the evaluation project receives credible advice, guidance and transparency from the very beginning.
Members of an ERG
Selecting the members for the ERG is a very strategic process. There are some important and tactical decisions to be made when inviting members for the evaluation reference group. The ERG although does not dictate the evaluation project but it plays a vital role to ensure that evaluation project receives stakeholder buy-in the headed to the right direction. The ERG members offer their insight and collaborative perspectives to build the foundation of the evaluation project.
The ERG members should fall under the following three categories –
- Have expertise in evaluation design and practice
- Have knowledge about the area of intervention
- Are a key stakeholder of the organisation
Role of the ERG
An ERG acts as an advisory body of the evaluation project. ERG members do not dictate or control the evaluation process but they play a vital role to ensure that the evaluation project has a solid foundation, a comprehensive program logic and clearly defined milestones. So it is very important to define the role of the ERG from the beginning so that their remains no ambiguity. These are the key roles that an ERG can play:
- Provide advisory support to the evaluation project leaders
- Offer expert opinion about the area of intervention
- Guide the evaluation process and design
- Monitor the progress of the evaluation milestones
- Challenge assumptions and unintended consequences
To govern the ERG, it is important to develop a Terms of Reference or ToR which should include all the relevant processes, decision making dynamics, meeting schedules, group roles etc.
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