How Will You Assess Whether You Achieved Your Goals?

One of the most important strategic decisions you can make during the planning process is to determine whether, when, and how you will measure the success of your reporting project. An evaluation plan should be an integral part of your overall written plan for the project. A systematic evaluation can help you answer a variety of questions about your project, in particular:

  • What worked?
  • What didn't work?
  • What could be done differently the next time to create a better process and a better outcome?

An evaluation is also a way to track, as a management function, whether you are completing tasks appropriately, on time, and on budget.

Learn more about assessing your project:

Why Plan an Evaluation Early?

Thinking now about how you will assess your effectiveness in the future can help you:

  • Clarify what you want to accomplish and modify your specific goals so that they are realistic and, ideally, measurable.
  • Determine what information you need now (or soon) in order to measure change later. For example, if your goal is to increase your audience's awareness of differences in quality among health plans, you may want to field a survey to measure their current level of awareness before you distribute the comparative information.
  • Plan ahead for the process of evaluation and the time, funding, and resources needed for that purpose. Many sponsors are unable to evaluate their projects simply because they failed to set aside funding for this purpose. But this does not mean that an evaluation has to be expensive. There are many relatively inexpensive ways to get valuable feedback on a quality information project, so there is always something you can do that will fit your budget.

After the Evaluation

When you plan this assessment stage of the reporting cycle, think about how you could use the information you hope to glean. All sponsors can view their findings as important sources of information for improving their own reports and the reporting process. Unless this report is a one-time activity, it can be helpful to anticipate how you might want to use evaluation results to sustain and possibly expand your project over time.

Also consider how you might contribute to the field by sharing the results of your evaluation with others. For some sponsors, the possibility of publishing results in an academic journal is an appealing option. If that doesn’t interest you, seek out less formal ways of telling other sponsors what you have learned. The TalkingQuality Web site, for example, is one venue available to sponsors who are willing to disseminate their findings. Another option would be organizations who host conferences and Webcasts on this topic.


Also in "Develop Strategies: What You Need To Do"

Page last reviewed March 2016
Page originally created February 2015
Internet Citation: How Will You Assess Whether You Achieved Your Goals?. Content last reviewed March 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/talkingquality/plan/develop/assess.html