Project evaluation is worth the effort

Challenge in the form of assessment of achieved results is one of the final elements of any undertaking. Or at least it should be in theory where verification of what has been achieved in a given project is an obligatory concept. However, in everyday practice evaluation is sometimes neglected and mistreated. Why does it happen? Let’s take a closer look at the difficult art of project evaluation.

What is project evaluation?

There are any ways to define the heroine of this article. Summing up all of them with which we had the opportunity to meet, it can be stated that project evaluation is nothing else but comprehensive assessment of all of the project’s dimensions and its results. It is a very capacious ascertainment which includes many ideas. So, while evaluating the course of the project and what we managed to hammer out on its basis, we take into consideration a few aspects: management and task delegation, quality of production, efficiency and efficacy of applied tools, communication as well as opinions of the clients and people involved in the project. In other words, the evaluation consists in drawing conclusions from a given undertaking. Regardless of whether we talk about public or business projects, infrastructure or social projects, local or international projects, good evaluation is worth its weight in gold. This is because it allows to artfully summarise what we managed to hammer out in the context of assumed goals. This precious knowledge allows not only to close and settle the project, but is also a departure point for planning consecutive undertakings, this time without the risk of making the previous mistakes.

Is verification that important?

A reliable evaluation is in the interest of any person involved in the project. Whether you read this post as an employer of marketing agency, service company, organisation conducting EU projects or an engineer employed in a software house is a secondary matter. The investor, project manager, customer consultant, subcontractor and the final recipient can equally benefit from the evaluation results, approaching them primarily not as a summary but as a chance for a new, better opening. Showing weak and strong sides of the project, the evaluation stands as a guard over the quality of our work. Thanks to the evaluation, we are able to assess which aspects of the project failed and which did the trick. After performance of the evaluation, you should be able to diagnose the possible problematic areas – floundering information flow, lack of timeliness of co-workers, unrealistic schedule assumptions, application drive which does not meet the expectations, purchases which exceeded the set budget, etc. A well conducted evaluation should also show us the costs and alternative effects. The familiarity with defective elements and enhancement of those operating properly is the best material for the new undertaking runway. What is more, evaluation is like a litmus paper presenting the opinions of all the interested parties. Getting to know their opinions may prove not less inspiring than verifying the project’s technical aspects.

Why the evaluation should be viewed as a challenge? 

We presume that the importance of evaluation is no longer a discussion matter for people thinking in the categories of projects. Even the greatest malcontents have to give credit to the role which is fulfilled by evaluation in this case. Why then does solid performance of evaluation prove to be so difficult in practice? There are quite a few answers to this question. Some of them result from our human specificity. First of all, the very concept of evaluation has negative connotations for some of us, it is associated with unpleasant consequences and comparisons with others. We have learnt in at school. The assessment can provoke mutual accusations, shifting the responsibility as well as drive a wedge even between the best-matched teams. It is also difficult to maintain a hundred percent objectivity when evaluating the project because, as people, we tend to apply subjective filters to everything. The undertone of doubt in the matter of objectivity of the assessment also has its second face. What we have in mind here is collecting feedback from project stakeholders. This process is often carried out through tedious surveys or telemarketing research. There is a risk that the interviewed people may provide false data. Among other examples of problems with evaluation, the project management companies list the following doubts. The first one is the person carrying out the assessment – it can be either a team member or an external auditor or investor. The choice of the right tools in order to obtain the information necessary to draw conclusions is also a problem. The moment of performance of project evaluation (ex-ante, ex-post ex-ante, ex-post or ongoing) can also influence its final shape.

Is it then worth to undertake a challenge that the project evaluation is? Absolutely yes! Verification of achieved (or not achieved) goals should become a habit of all the people working with the use of project management methods. You should definitely look for your own version of optimization of assessment and create patterns that will help in maintaining the objectivity and measurability of project evaluation. For this purpose, you can use proven project management tools, such as IC Project, which reduce the time spent on the verification of effects and provide clear information in the form of objective statistics.

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