From Good to Great Evaluations

By Ratana Norng and Alissar Chaker, UNDP Cambodia

April 9, 2024

Doing what we are good at will only make us good, so we decided to focus on what we could do better. Achieving a full evaluation score was a moonshot until the 2023 final evaluation of the Graduation-Based Social Protection in Cambodia. But what did we do differently this time?  

Metrics that matter. The challenge is to define and include the right metrics that can be tracked qualitatively or quantitatively at an appropriate level of specificity for understanding the big picture while generating granular details. Some of these metrics were lacking in the project document and had to be addressed in the evaluation methodology. Keeping evaluation in mind when drafting the results framework would have been a better alternative!  

The right people. Quality is determined by the people who lead the process.  The rosters have facilitated recruitment, but they still need some weeding.  The risk of a wrong choice has financial and hefty reputational costs.

Strong leadership at different levels. It starts with vision and commitment to continuous improvement. The Resident Representative made it her business and is regularly involved in evaluation processes. This has set the tone in the office, but the good result could not have been achieved without the concerted and timely engagement of concerned colleagues and UNDP’s wide networks of partners. Orchestrating the process was the Evaluation Manager who oversaw the implementation of a ‘pre-agreed’ evaluation plan within budget and time constraints and emerging risk tolerances.

Do not forget the most forgotten. These are the cross-cutting issues such as gender, youth inclusion, climate, etc. Even the best consultant needs some reminding to capture the local context.

As a last reflection, the process resembles a flywheel where small wins build up over time and eventually gain momentum, so that “greatness” almost seems to happen spontaneously.