Program Evaluation and Management Process
The program management process is the overall, generic process that helps to guide the results of an organization, both at the strategic, organizational level and at the program level. This process is made up of inputs, activities, outputs, strategic outcomes (immediate and intermediate) and ultimate results. This process is very useful in that it helps to focus our thinking on what it is we are really trying to measure. Outputs, outcomes and ultimate results are commonly used to describe the different level of results. It is useful to look at this process as a sequence of cause-effect relationships, in which each level of the results is related to the next higher one by means of achieving the previous one. The figure above provides a graphical illustration of this concept.
The cause and effect linkages can be expressed as “if…then” statements, representing the internal logic of the program/project/process. For example, “if” the outputs are achieved as expected, “then” we should achieve the outcome, and; “if “ the outcomes are achieved as expected, “then” we should achieve the ultimate results. Through the development and implementation of this new system, we will look to integrate this generic management process within the existing programs and key initiatives. In doing this, we will be in a position to clearly define, measure, monitor and report on the key results for each of the departments programs in a consistent fashion. This will strengthen decision-making by providing objective information to help determine if we are doing the right things, and doing them well, in order to achieve the agency’s strategic outcomes.
The definition of evaluation, as practiced today under the guidelines set out by the Treasury Board of Canada, includes:
- The function, which is the formal assessment of programs in terms of their rationale, objectives achievement, impacts and effects, alternatives, and, frequently, future directions.
- The procedure, which, according to generally accepted approaches and methodologies, is the performance of an evaluation assessment or study for a particular program, which defines the program to be evaluated (logic model), identifies the issues to be evaluated, develops and assesses the methodologies and options for addressing these issues, analyzes the impacts and effects, identifies and assesses various alternatives to the program; and sets out future directions based on the evaluation results.
- The process, which includes developing evaluation frameworks for new or modified programs, undertaking evaluation assessments and evaluation studies, and making decisions and taking actions resulting from the findings and recommendations of the evaluation studies.
Taking these three aspects together, program evaluation can be defined as a periodic, independent and objective review and assessment of a program, set of related programs, or a logical program component. The purpose is to determine the program’s adequacy or relevance under the current and expected situation, and all its impacts and effects. Cost effectiveness of the existing program and alternative means to achieve the same objectives are major concerns of program evaluation. The objectives of the program evaluation function in departments or agencies are to provide the deputy head with the information necessary for program improvement, resource allocation and accountability.