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Engage Stakeholders & Select a Team

After determining who should lead the evaluation efforts, it is critical to engage stakeholders and select a team to advise and assist with the evaluation process.

Engage Stakeholders

Program evaluation should typically begin by consulting all parties who have a vested interest in program. This is called engaging stakeholders. Stakeholders can be individuals and organizations. Essentially, anyone who may be interested in the evaluation’s findings can be considered a stakeholder. Possible stakeholders include:

  • Parents
  • Funders
  • Program staff
  • Senior staff university administrators
  • State-level politicians or policymakers
  • Department of Education
  • Program partners
  • School officials

It is important to engage stakeholders because their involvement can be critical to the success of your evaluation. Stakeholders can either help or disrupt the evaluation process before it begins, while it is in progress, or after the data has been analyzed and ready to be communicated.

When engaging stakeholders, target those who:

  • Enhance the credibility of your evaluation
  • Add technical guidance regarding the evaluation process
  • Have influence over your day-to-day operations
  • Can influence how recommendations from the evaluation are utilized
  • Have the ability to fund or deny funding

Below are several questions that you may want to consider asking some of the stakeholders:

What to ask stakeholders

  • Who do you represent and why are you interested in this program?
  • What about this program is important to you?
  • What would you like this program to accomplish?
  • How much progress would you expect this program to have made at this time?
  • What do you see as the critical evaluation questions at this time?
  • How will you use the results of this evaluation?
  • What resources might you contribute to this evaluation effort?

Taken from: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1999). Framework for program evaluation in public health.

Select a Team

Always remember that evaluation is a team effort. After you engage the necessary stakeholders, create a team of individuals who can support your evaluation efforts. Although the evaluator will act as the team leader, the team can be relied on to give feedback throughout the process.

There is no one formula for selecting the best evaluation team. The size and composition of your evaluation team will vary according to the size of your program, staff roles, and available resources. The team may include program staff, outside consultants, or key stakeholders.

For example:

  • One outreach program that hired an external research organization established an evaluation team consisting of the Executive Director and three senior program managers. Nine program staff members assisted the evaluation team with data entry tasks.
  • Another program hired an evaluation expert as a staff member. That evaluator worked with the Chief Financial Officer who oversaw the evaluation tasks, and the directors of operations from various programmatic areas.