RE: Principles for a healthy relationship between evaluators and experts | Eval Forward

Dear Ibtissem,

Thank you for posting a blog on this important issue. The complexity of development interventions requires that evaluation teams have various types of expertise. Yet, it is often quite difficult to secure right mix of expertise, and it is even more challenging to ensure that this expertise is effectively utilized during a short span of the evaluation process.

Evaluation managers/leaders (hereinafter referred as Evaluation Team Leaders) need to make their thoughtful decisions on what expertise they need to obtain for the evaluation team, and what combination of expert knowledge and experience would work best for their evaluation.  In making these decisions and in leading the evaluation processes, Evaluation Leaders may indeed be guided by the five competency domains highlighted by Ibtissem  (or the Competencies for Canadian Evaluation Practice), which resonate with the 2016 UNEG Evaluation Competency Framework ( ).  

The role of the evaluation leader in managing the teams of experts, is indeed strategic and challenging, and I would like to add just a few considerations in this regard, to stimulate further discussion on this important topic:

Establishing strong leadership

Evaluation Team Leaders need to effectively lead the evaluation team, coordinating effective engagement of each expert in the team, validating their individual inputs and undertaking quality controls at key milestones. Continuous communication with each team member throughout the process is essential to ensure that any questions are potential risks of drawbacks are timely and effectively addressed.

Ensuring compliance with organizational standards

The Evaluation Team leaders need to require compliance of each team members with applicable rules and regulations, and standards of conduct established by the organization, and establish quality parameters of expected deliverables. In collaboration with each team member, Evaluation Team Leader should ensure that there is a shared understanding of what is to be evaluated and how, clarifying how organizational standards and processes are to be applied, and what is expected from each individual team member.

Focus, focus, focus

Biases are unavoidable, yet their influence can be minimized by focusing on evaluation objective and clearly establishing the scope of evaluation analysis. Furthermore, it should be made clear that any expert inputs and viewpoints need to be validated and supported with solid and relevant evidence.

Building relationships

Teambuilding skills are essential, to ensure that team members support each other and works towards achieving common objective.

Engaging external expert panels

If at all possible, external panels of experts may be engaged to provide feedback on key thematic areas of your evaluation analysis. Recognized experts from counterpart organizations may assist by serving as high-level expert panel members, to review findings produced.

These are just a few examples, and I anticipate continued discussion on this topic. 

Kindest regards,

Serdar Bayryyev