Once you have come to conclusions about your current impact, you can start to think about how to use this knowledge so that you can achieve even more for your users or cause.
The data you have collected and analysed is a valuable asset. You and your team will have discovered what is working well and what needs changing or adapting.
This sort of information is vital for planning impact but can also be used to improve a project as it goes along. Even if you are doing a pretty fantastic job, you will probably have some ideas for improving what you do.
The right changes?
Whether you are undertaking an organisation-wide review or a mid-project progress check, any recommendations that you draw from your evaluation need to be:
- evidence-based - make sure you have the information to back up your arguments
- prioritised - decide what's most important
- realistic - before finalising recommendations for improvements to the project or organisation, you should also think how they will be resourced and implemented
- followed through - so the improvements are actually made, and reviewed to check they are working.
This might all sound obvious, but it is very common for organisations to do one or more of the following:
- ignore the evidence and cling to their existing beliefs
- try to make large or lots of changes in a short space of time when this is not feasible
- fail to communicate plans with others (either internally or externally) to sound out ideas or prepare for new developments
- make decisions in a vacuum without considering, for example, what other players in your field are doing, or your users' wider needs.
Once your recommendations have been finalised and agreed, plan their implementation and set a timescale for completion. Depending on your circumstances, this could involve a new organisational strategy or small-scale amendments to a project plan.
Whatever scale of change you are proposing, it will have an impact on your team and possibly, other people too. You may have discovered, for example, that more volunteer training is necessary, or that some people need help with their workloads, or that you need to change job descriptions and work routines. Change is not always welcome in an organisation, but you will now have evidence for why it is needed and will therefore be far more likely to gain acceptance from staff and users for any adjustments you want to make. Find out more about managing change.
Managing change well will also help to foster a culture of continuous improvement.
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