7.1 Overview

Developing a quality evaluation design involves a thorough understanding of what is being evaluated (the initiative and its context) and making decisions about the following key elements and how each will contribute to valid and useful evaluation results:

  • The purpose of the evaluation
  • The focus of the evaluation, that is, the key questions that the evaluation seeks to answer
  • The sources and methods for obtaining information that is credible and defensible
  • The procedures that will be used to analyse and interpret data and report results
  • The standards that must be reached for the initiative to be considered successful
  • The evidence that will be used to indicate how the initiative has performed and demonstrate its results (outputs and outcomes)
Role of stakeholders 

Stakeholders play an important role in designing and carrying out a quality evaluation. Stakeholders include individuals and groups that have a vested interest in the initiative or the results of the evaluation. Their involvement at all stages of the evaluation—including focusing the evaluation, shaping the questions to be addressed, identifying credible sources of evidence, reviewing findings and assisting in their interpretation—increases the credibility, potential usefulness and sustainability of evaluation results.  Typically, stakeholders can be divided into three major categories, which are not mutually exclusive:

  • Those involved in the implementation of the initiative—for example, donors, collaborators, strategic partners, administrators, managers and staff
  • Those served or affected by the initiative—for example, intended beneficiaries, relevant organizations and agencies, government officials, advocacy groups, skeptics, opponents and staff of the implementing or competing agencies
  • Primary users of the evaluation—for example, the specific persons in a position to do or decide something regarding the initiative, such as donors, UNDP programmatic counterparts (programme or outcome board) and partners in joint evaluation

The level of involvement of stakeholders will vary among evaluations. When designing an evaluation, it is important for the commissioning programme unit to identify stakeholders early and draw upon their knowledge as the evaluation design is shaped, starting with their meaningful involvement in developing the ToR. This is particularly critical for joint evaluations, in which case partners involved in the evaluation should be involved in all phases of developing the evaluation design.