Program evaluation can be defined as a systematic process of collecting, analyzing, and using information to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of programs and projects.
A good starting point to think about program evaluation is to ask some key questions which will provide answer as to why a program needs evaluation. These questions are –
- Are the program goals appropriate and useful?
- Does the program work?
- Is the program effective?
- Are there unintended consequences?
- How can the program be improved?
- Are there alternatives that would be better?
Program evaluation has become increasingly crucial as organisations and entities are becoming more and more focused towards their impact. Evaluation provides the opportunity to measure the impact of a project and program both in short term and long term. Evaluation also helps to align purpose, action and impact to ensure that long-term change can be possible. The field of program evaluation is vast and captures essence from a variety of other areas such as – research, data and program management. Consequently, the job of an evaluator is also multi-faceted and requires different skill sets. A lot of what evaluators do, involve – theoretical debates, ethical considerations and logical assertions.