Project Evaluation Phase: Guidelines & Resources for Consulting

Sections of this topic

    Much of the content
    of this topic came from this book:
    Consulting and Organization Development - Book Cover

    Sections in this Topic Include:

    Goals for This Project Evaluation Phase
    Some Evaluation Questions to Consider When Doing a
    Results Evaluation
    Reasons Why Success Might Not Have Been Achieved
    When Clients Are Reluctant to Do a Final Evaluation
    If Desired Results Are Still Not Achieved, Cycle Back?
    Some Useful Resources and Skills for This Phase
    Also, See These Closely Related Topics

    Strongly Recommended Pre-Reading

    All About Consulting
    – Types, Skills and Approaches

    Consulting for Performance, Change and Learning
    and Resources for the Contracting Phase of the Consulting
    and Resources for the Discovery Phase of Consulting
    and Resources for the Action Planning Phase of the Consulting
    and Resources for the Implementation Phase of Consulting

    NOTE: There can be very different styles in going through this project evaluation
    phase, ranging from a carefully specified and sequential set of activities to
    an unfolding and nonsequential arrangement. See the very Different
    Approaches in Consulting
    . For the sake of being highly informative with
    clear and well-organized information, this topic will explain a rather orderly,
    but a highly collaborative approach to project evaluation.

    (This phase is sometimes referred to as the Evaluation and Adoption Phase,
    although some practitioners separate the Adoption phase and consider it to be
    focused especially on ensuring the client has adopted the new practices needed
    to solve the client’s problem — and learn how to solve similar problems into
    the future.)


    See a video
    about project evaluation, including overcoming barriers, benefits of evaluation,
    evaluation planning, questions to ask, and responses to results. From the Consultants
    Development Institute

    By now, you and your client have made a consistent and focused attempt to implement
    the action plans (perhaps combined into an Implementation Plan). The primary
    purpose of this phase is to assess whether success was achieved in the project.
    is usually defined during the contracting
    and sometimes at the end of the discovery
    after recommendations have been approved by the client. The purpose
    also is to ensure that your client’s organization has adopted the new
    approaches and practices to avoid or manage similar situations in the future.
    This is the phase of the consulting process that really pays off if you have
    been working collaboratively with your client.

    Goals of This Project Evaluation Phase

    1. Decide if the issues that were identified during discovery have been successfully
    2. Decide if the vision for change has been achieved (that is, if your client
      decided to develop a vision for change during the project).
    3. Decide if the action plans have been implemented.
    4. Decide whether it is necessary to cycle back in the consulting cycle or
      proceed to the next phase, project

    Some Evaluation Questions to Consider
    When Doing a Results Evaluation

    1. Has success, and any other desired goals and outcomes, been achieved? If
      not, what else needs to be achieved?
    2. Have the critical success factors identified during the contracting
      been achieved?
    3. Has the vision for change been achieved? If not, what else needs to be
      accomplished to achieve the vision? How should that be done?
    4. Have all of the action plans been implemented? If not, which is necessary
      action plans should still be implemented?
    5. Has the organization successfully adopted the new structures and practices
      to avoid problems like this in the future?

    Reasons Why Success Might Not Have Been

    When projects do not achieve success, it is often one or more of the following

    • The overall situation changed. In small organizations, a project might successfully
      identify a major issue and action to address that issue, only to discover
      that a different, major issue has suddenly become much more important.
    • Key people succumbed to burnout. The stress of the change effort was such
      that some people lost their ability to sustain momentum and focus on their
      work. Consequently, they were longer effective in the project – or their
    • Key people left the organization. Small organizations tend to have a high
      employee turnover rate – employees come and go rather quickly. It can
      be a disaster for a project if your client suddenly leaves the organization.
    • The relationship between you and your client degenerated. If you and your
      client have not worked at sustaining an effective working relationship, it
      can fall apart completely during the rigors of implementation.
    • Key people in the organization refused to implement the action plans. If
      you and your client have not met the Requirements
      For successful Organizational Change
      , the people in the organization
      are much less likely to implement the plans for change.

    When Clients Are Reluctant to Do a Final Evaluation

    Surprisingly, it can be a major challenge to get the client to undergo a final
    evaluation of the results of the project, especially if it already seems clear
    that the project has been successful. When that happens, consider the following

    • Ensure that your evaluation design suits the nature and needs of your client’s
    • Explain what evaluation is. Help clients realize that they are probably
      already doing the evaluation, but just not calling it that.
    • Explain that evaluation focuses on relevance, utility, and practicality,
      not just on complete accuracy, validity, and reliability.
    • Explain that evaluation is often associated with a great deal of learning.

    If Desired Results Are Still Not Achieved, Cycle

    If, after having conducted most or all of the project evaluation, it is clear
    that success has not been achieved, then consider the following guidelines.

    • Be authentic. Respectfully name what you are seeing or hearing (the evidence)
      for why you believe the project is not achieving success. Do not include any
      judgment about people in the organization.
    • Realize your client’s lack of participation may be a form of project
      resistance. If so, then be authentic to address that, as mentioned above.
    • Respectfully acknowledge the other priorities of your client.
    • Remind your client of the importance of achieving success.
    • Remind your client: that choices about the project are choices about the organization.
    • Mutually decide if you should cycle back to an earlier consulting
      in the project.

    The upcoming project
    phase shares ideas when it seems the project needs to be terminated.

    Some Useful Resources and Skills for
    This Phase

    Evaluation of Organization Development Interventions: An Empirical Study
    Practice in Organization Development Evaluation
    How to Measure
    the Intervention Process?
    Differently about evaluating OD interventions
    Organization Development Interventions
    Framework To Evaluate Consulting Efforts

    How to
    Design Successful Evaluation and Assessment Plans

    Guide to Program Evaluation (used to conduct evaluations during and at the end
    of the project)
    Evaluation Activities
    in Organizations (all kinds)

    Also, See These Closely Related Topics

    and Resources for the Termination Phase of Consulting

    of the Field of Organization Development
    Guidelines, Methods, and Resources for Organizational Change Agents
    and Resources for Organizational Change Agents

    Additional Library Resources in the Category of Organizational
    Change and Development

    Related Library Topics

    Recommended Books