BLOG: “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. How to plan an evaluation.

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Benjamin Franklin and Winston Churchill are oft attributed to having said “failing to plan is planning to fail”, or some or other version, an adage apropos to Planning an Evaluation, led by Dr Matt Merema from WA Department of Health.

Dr Merema expertly broke down an undoubtedly substantial subject into seven simple elements: purpose of evaluation; types of evaluation; goals, objectives and activities; indicators; research and evaluation framework; logic model; and evaluation proposal/plan.

He then gave delegates the opportunity to have a go at planning an evaluation based on the first three steps of an eight-step research and evaluation framework. Table groups blindly selected an area of injury, e.g. poisoning, burns, road trauma. They then completed a program planning logic model to identify goals, outcomes, context and activities for a hypothetical programme in that area.

The second activity was to complete an evaluation proposal plan for the same hypothetical injury programme. Delegates drilled down to identify SMART objectives, specific activities, outcome indicators, timelines and responsibilities, as well as plans for disseminating the lessons learnt.

Delegates then shared their work with the broader group, which prompted lively discussion and positive feedback.

The exercise highlighted the importance of planning an evaluation and the significance of evaluation to the overall success of a programme. Failure to plan an evaluation may result in meaningless data when it comes to measuring or trying to understand a programme’s effectiveness. That’s an #EpicFail easily avoided by going through the process of creating programme-specific evaluation plans.


Written by April Nicholls, Road Trauma Support WA