Professionalization of Evaluation – Need of the hour

Updated: Sep 26, 2021

Doctors have it, Accountants, Lawyers, Engineers have clearly prescribed standards, principles and values that would guarantee quality of service they offer to people and the unbounded trust that people have put on them in return. Well this is absolutely a dominant theme in the field of evaluation as well. This discussion is to put different ideas and thoughts into perspective to respond to the rallying cry out there – “professionalization of evaluation”.

Yes, I’ve heard about it, but other leading professionals have worked for many years to come this far, right?

Yes, of course, achieving professional standards was not an easy task for them, they have earned it through years of dedication, commitment, determination and tireless scholarly work and consistent and ethical professional practice. Why we do not firmly push for it for evaluation as well?

Well I do not say Professionalization is not wanted, actually it’s good, but?

Why But?

We can definitely create pathways to advance professionalization, plan some compelling interventions to strengthen capacity, yes, we can do something good for continual improvement in the evaluation profession, but no need to introduce strict rules, right?

That’s the problem! Often, we put self-erected barriers when time comes to act on professionalization. Why do we dilute our stance? Why we do not scope it out properly? We all know we should do it, we have discussed about it for decades, conducted many ‘effective’ workshops, conferences, published research papers and books, held consultation sessions, published news bulletins, released concept papers, and above all we all say we need influential evaluation to create value in the development processes. But what exactly have we done in tangible means to contribute to the professionalization of evaluation? I bet you, such initiatives are numbered.

We have policies, procedures, processes and people to conduct evaluations. We also have professional organizational setup to promote evaluation at various levels. We have been doing this for decades now, why do we feel unlucky by not professionalizing it and continuing the same way we’ve been doing things before?

Evaluation is a graceful and impacting profession, it’s a trans-discipline, focused on promoting accountability, transparency, social learning, making sure ‘no one is left behind’. Expectations from evaluation practice to make a lasting impact to achieve SDGs are very high. Circumstances have become complex, volatile and uncertain, we are sailing through unchartered territories of pandemic, shaping the evaluation up ‘professionally’ means a lot to drive individuals and organizations to improve quality, performance, delivery, reliability and flexibility as our service KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and stay strong against pressing challenges. We need to make the institutions think about it as an investment rather than a cost considering pros and cons.

It is a massive program that we need to embark with many funds, correct?

Not really, well it’s program with a clear roadmap for sure, with good planning and preparation but you do not have to make it a mammoth project that goes out of control. Cut it down to meaningful slices of small projects, take one slice at a time.

OK, thanks for explanations, lot of things are clear to me now, what should I do next?

First develop an observant mindset, read about the work done by others, think strategically, learn models, organize and group with others to form an action group within your VOPEs (Voluntary Organizations for the Professionalization of Evaluations) /other networks with a burning desire & clear purpose. Lessons learned from implemented programs can be very useful. Think big and global but nothing prevents you to act local, start working on one strategy – competency, governance, capacity, stay connected.

We value individuals and organizations with active interest and energy levels…….

Want to hear more from you……

SEE beyond evaluations!!

Go beyond evaluations!!

MAKE evaluations matter in the region!!!

Author: Ruchira PARANAVITHANA is a senior quality assurance manager in a leading company, managing QA systems and is a professional in human resource development over 25 years. He has managed quality management systems audits in Asian and European countries. Ruchira has managed strategic learning and development interventions as a certified master trainer. He is leading themes in professionalization of evaluators in strengthening the regional evaluation strategy developed by APEA and he is a member of Inter-Regional Initiative for Professionalization of Evaluation (IRIPE). Ruchira has co-authored competency framework for evaluators and competency assessment pathway for Young & Emerging Evaluators (YEEs).

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