6. Analysing and using data
Making sense of the data you have collected, finding patterns and themes, so you can learn and improve.
Your reporting should be impartial and transparent. Evaluation is not intended to justify projects. Rather it should be an impartial analysis of a project’s strengths and weaknesses. We’re increasingly seeing funders who are more interested in whether projects have been properly assessed than what the actual results say. Therefore, if your evaluation is going to be credible you will need to show that you have been impartial in:
- Designing your research: Your theory of change will help with this.
- Collecting evidence: This will derive from the quality of your evidence collection and combine a wide range of sources.
- Analysing evidence: This comes from the quality and rigour of your write-up. You should give a full description of your methods and include relevant data in your appendices.
Don’t be afraid to be honest about failure. Although it may be difficult, learning from things that have not worked is the best way to improve services. Furthermore, if we are not sure a service will work, it is better to implement it on a small scale and learn quickly to minimise cost.