5 Steps to hire a project evaluation consultant

In this article you will learn which steps to follow to choose and hire a project evaluation service.

Dual perspective of evaluation

The objective of a  project evaluation is to make a judgment on the success or failure of an intervention considering its

  • adaptability,
  • effectiveness,
  • efficiency,
  • relevance,
  • coverage,
  • impact,
  • sustainability
  • and the adequacy of its management and monitoring mechanisms.

An evaluation can be:

  • External: carried out entirely by professionals from outside the entity managing the intervention, which contributes to increasing the independence and credibility of the evaluation.
  • Mixed: this type of evaluation is carried out by the managing entity with the participation of an external consultant.

In both cases, if you are looking for information on how a project evaluation is done, you may be a member of the managing entity of the intervention and you may have to hire an external consultant or you may be that external consultant who has been hired to carry out an evaluation. Whether you are one or the other, the information you are looking for is different.

Today we will look at the process to be followed from the perspective of the management entity that needs to contract an evaluation service.

If you do not have a monitoring and evaluation department in your organization, it is very likely that you will have to hire a consultant to carry out the evaluation of a project. There are several steps to follow. Let’s take a look at them.

1 Create the Terms of Reference (ToR)

The ToR for the final project evaluation is the initial planning document that defines the scope, requirements and expectations of an evaluation and serves as a guide and reference point throughout the evaluation. The preparation of the ToR is the responsibility of the project management entity although it is very important to involve stakeholders, the local partner and beneficiaries in order to ensure that the ToR reflect the expectations and concerns of all project stakeholders.

2  Selection of the consultant/evaluation team

Once the ToR are finalised, you will have to disseminate them through the most suitable channels (website, social networks etc.). Applicants are required to send the methodological proposal, their CV and references from previous work. In the ToR it is important to define the contents and the minimum information to be included in the methodological proposal.

Attention: the methodological proposal is key to being selected as it is the offer that the consultant makes to the managing entity in order to be hired. This is the other perspective mentioned above, which we will explore on another occasion.

3 Adjustment of the technical proposal

Once the consultant has been selected, and before fieldwork is implemented, the managing entity must have a meeting with the consultant to adjust and define the terms of the methodological proposal. This is the moment to clearly delimit the evaluation questions, adding the focuses of interest and concerns of the different stakeholders. It is also the time to compare the collection tools proposed by the evaluation team (questionnaires, interviews and so on).

The products to be delivered by the consultant in this phase could be:

(a) The Evaluation Planning Matrix, which will include the evaluation criteria and evaluation questions.

  1. b) The final work plan: which will contain the schedule of the evaluation stages and the timeframe for the delivery of the expected outputs.

4 Engaging in Fieldwork

Fieldwork is the phase of the evaluation in which the evaluation team/consultant collects information from key informants. The duration of this stage will depend on factors such as the number of informants, the size and geographical spread of the intervention or the estimated extent of the evaluation.

5 Presentation of the Final Evaluation Report

In this phase the evaluation team presents the results of the evaluation. The main deliverable will be the final Evaluation Report. In addition to the Final Evaluation Report, there are two other elements that should be included at this stage:

  1. A preliminary report or first draft of the Evaluation Report: the draft is a first version of the Final Report, which will contain all the content and results information. Its purpose is to allow the managing entity and stakeholders, including key informants, to review its content, with the aim of making adjustments, clarifying the information provided or proposing suggestions.
  2. A workshop to present the results of the evaluation to the staff of the managing entity, the staff of the partner organisations, stakeholders, informants, key actors of the beneficiary population. This workshop also aims to facilitate the appropriation of the results by all stakeholders.

At this point, the evaluation process has been completed. It will now be up to the managing organization to use the results of the evaluation to draw lessons learned for the future.

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About Felipe Nitsche

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Felipe is an expert in international cooperation and humanitarian action. Extensive experience in human rights mainstreaming perspectives, social cohesion, project design, women's economic empowerment and generation of opportunities for refugees, migrants and host community members. He has worked in different countries in South America, Africa and Asia as program coordinator in the field of child protection, refugees and livelihood.  Since 2019 he is based in Spain, where he works in humanitarian action projects with refugee population.
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