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Guidelines and Resources for Project Evaluation Phase of Consulting

Much of the content of this topic came from this book: Consulting and Organization Development - Book Cover

Sections in this Topic Include:

Goals for This Project Evaluation Phase
Some Evaluation Questions to Consider When Doing a Results Evaluation
Reasons Why Success Might Not Have Been Achieved
When Clients Are Reluctant to Do Final Evaluation
If Desired Results Are Still Not Achieved, Cycle Back?
Some Useful Resources and Skills for This Phase
Also See These Closely Related Topics

Strongly Recommended Pre-Reading

All About Consulting - Types, Skills and Approaches
Collaborative Consulting for Performance, Change and Learning
Guidelines and Resources for Contracting Phase of Consulting
Guidelines and Resources for Discovery Phase of Consulting
Guidelines and Resources for Action Planning Phase of Consulting
Guidelines and Resources for Implementation Phase of Consulting

NOTE: There can be very different styles in going through this project evaluation phase, ranging from a carefully specified and sequential set of activities to an unfolding and nonsequential arrangement. See the very Different Approaches in Consulting. For the sake of being highly informative with clear and well organized information, this topic will explain a rather orderly, but highly collaborative approach to project evaluation.

(This phase is sometimes referred to as the Evaluation and Adoption Phase, although some practitioners separate the Adoption phase and consider it to be focused especially on ensuring the client has adopted the new practices needed to solve the client's problem -- and learned how to solve similar problems into the future.)


See a video about project evaluation, including overcoming barriers, benefits of evaluation, evaluation planning, questions to ask and responses to results. From the Consultants Development Institute.

By now, you and your client have made a consistent and focused attempt to implement the action plans (perhaps combined into an Implementation Plan). The primary purpose of this phase is to assess whether success was achieved in the project. Success is usually defined during the contracting phase and sometimes at the end of the discovery phase after recommendations have been approved by the client. The purpose also is to ensure that your client’s organization has adopted the new approaches and practices to avoid or manage similar situations in the future. This is the phase of the consulting process that really pays off if you have been working collaboratively with your client.

Goals of This Project Evaluation Phase

  1. Decide if the issues that were identified during discovery have been successfully addressed.
  2. Decide if the vision for change has been achieved (that is, if your client decided to develop a vision for change during the project).
  3. Decide if the action plans have been implemented.
  4. Decide whether it is necessary to cycle back in the consulting cycle or proceed to the next phase, project termination.

Some Evaluation Questions to Consider When Doing a Results Evaluation

  1. Has success, and any other desired goals and outcomes, been achieved? If not, what else needs to be achieved?
  2. Have the critical success factors identified during the contracting phase been achieved?
  3. Has the vision for change been achieved? If not, what else needs to be accomplished to achieve the vision? How should that be done?
  4. Have all of the action plans been implemented? If not, which necessary action plans should still be implemented?
  5. Has the organization successfully adopted the new structures and practices to avoid problems like this in the future?

Reasons Why Success Might Not Have Been Achieved

When projects do not achieve success, it is often one or more of the following reasons:

  • The overall situation changed. In small organizations, a project might successfully identify a major issue and actions to address that issue, only to discover that a different, major issue had suddenly become much more important.
  • Key people succumbed to burnout. The stress of the change effort was such that some people lost their ability to sustain momentum and focus on their work. Consequently, they were longer effective in the project – or their jobs.
  • Key people left the organization. Small organizations tend to have a high employee turnover rate – employees come and go rather quickly. It can be a disaster to a project if your client suddenly left the organization.
  • The relationship between you and your client degenerated. If you and your client have not worked at sustaining an effective working relationship, it can fall apart completely during the rigors of implementation.
  • Key people in the organization refused to implement the action plans. If you and your client have not met the Requirements for Successful Organizational Change, then people in the organization are much less likely to implement the plans for change.

When Clients Are Reluctant to Do Final Evaluation

Surprisingly, it can be a major challenge to get the client to undergo a final evaluation of the results of the project, especially if it already seems clear that the project has been successful. When that happens, consider the following guidelines.

  • Ensure that your evaluation design suits the nature and needs of your client’s organization.
  • Explain what evaluation is. Help clients realize that they are probably already doing evaluation, but just not calling it that.
  • Explain that evaluation focuses on relevance, utility and practicality, not just on complete accuracy, validity and reliability.
  • Explain that evaluation is often associated with a great deal of learning.

If Desired Results Are Still Not Achieved, Cycle Back?

If, after having conducted most or all of the project evaluation, it is clear that success has not been achieved, then consider the following guidelines.

  • Be authentic. Respectfully name what you are seeing or hearing (the evidence) for why you believe the project is not achieving success. Do not include any judgment about people in the organization.
  • Realize your client’s lack of participation may be a form of project resistance. If so, then be authentic to address that, as mentioned above.
  • Respectfully acknowledge the other priorities of your client.
  • Remind your client of the importance of achieving the success.
  • Remind your client: choices about the project are choices about the organization.
  • Mutually decide if you should cycle back to an earlier consulting phase in the project.

The upcoming project termination phase shares ideas when it seems the project needs to be terminated.

Some Useful Resources and Skills for This Phase

The Evaluation Phase « Organisation Development
The Evaluation of Organization Development Interventions: An Empirical Study
Best Practice in Organization Development Evaluation
How to Measure the Intervention Process?
Thinking Differently about evaluating OD interventions
Evaluating Organization Development Interventions
A Framework To Evaluate Consulting Efforts

How to Design Successful Evaluation and Assessment Plans
Basic Guide to Program Evaluation (use to conduct evaluations during and at the end of the project)
Evaluation Activities in Organizations (all kinds)

Also See These Closely Related Topics

Guidelines and Resources for Termination Phase of Consulting

Overview of the Field of Organization Development
Guidelines, Methods and Resources for Organizational Change Agents
Competencies and Resources for Organizational Change Agents


Additional Library Resources in the Category of Organizational Change and Development

Related Library Topics

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