Performance measurement and program evaluation are similar terms but serve different purposes. Performance measurement gives you the required data by which you can measure the result of your program; whereas the process of obtaining, interpreting, analyzing and reporting of data (data provided through performance measurement) to describe how your program is working is called program evaluation.
1. What is Performance Measurement?
Performance measurement is the ongoing process to monitor and report the program accomplishments and going forward towards the pre-established goals. For various programs, requirements can be met via the performance measurement, which comprises data collection on the level and the type of inputs (activities) and the output (direct products and services) delivered by the program.
2. What is Program Evaluation?Program evaluation is an organized process to obtain information that can be used to assess and improve a program. Generally, program evaluations are used by the organizations to differentiate the successful program efforts from ineffective program activities to revise existing programs in order to achieve successful results. Program evaluations are considered as an important part of operating and managing a program as it helps in determining the needs of your client base. However, the type and the method of program evaluation depends upon the mission and the program’s goals.
3. Importance of Performance Measurement and Program Evaluation
Both mechanisms, i.e. performance measurement and program evaluation support allocation of resources and policy decisions aimed to improve program effectiveness and service delivery. While performance measurement can provide you only with the information that what’s occurring in the program, program evaluation gives you an overall assessment of the working of the program (whether the program is working appropriately and adjustments required to improve your program results). The data derived through performance measurement can be used in detecting problems in the initial stage of the process so that you can correct them before it is too late. The data provided through program evaluation can be used when the outcomes are not readily observable, and performance measures are inadequate to display the results of a program. Performance measurement and program evaluation complement each other in:
- Developing or improving the measures of program performance
- Helping to understand the relationship between activities and results
- Generating the data on program results not frequently collected or available through other means
- Ensuring the quality of regularly collected performance data
4. Benefits of Performance Measurement
Performance measurement assesses the process of a program toward its stated goals. As mentioned above, performance measurement gives you the required data by which you can measure the result (output) of your program. The result of the inputs (activities) that goes into a program is called output, whereas the changes resulting from an activity or final results are called outcomes. Data collection on the inputs, outputs, outcomes and impacts of a program will help you answer a few key questions:
- What are we doing with our inputs (resources)?
- What kind of services are we rendering? Whether we are reaching our target audience (outputs)?
- Whether the program activities can achieve the desired objectives (outcomes)?
Specific performance measures may include the following:
- The type and the number of services provided to victims
- The type and the number of service providers available to victims
- The number of service professionals trained or received training
- Changes in practice and policy in the community response to victims
- The increment in the number of partners (collaborative partners) in the designated region
5. Types and Benefits of Program Evaluation
Program evaluation is the process of obtaining, interpreting, analyzing and reporting of data (data provided through performance measurement) to describe how your program is working. Although several types of program evaluations exist, the evaluation type depends upon the questions you want to answer. Further, process, impact and outcome evaluations are three evaluations types you may be required to conduct:
- Process evaluations: This evaluation assesses the extent of the functioning of the program as planned.
- Outcome evaluations: This evaluation helps to examine the overall program effects and focuses on objectives to provide useful information about the result of the program.
- Impact evaluations: This evaluation focuses on the issues of causality and long-term program goals.
Each type of evaluation has its own specific benefits that will help in meeting your program goals successfully and meeting the objectives. Overall, evaluations help to—
- Win program support by demonstrating results
- Improve accountability to stakeholders
- Improve program management
- Improve program planning and implementation
- Improve program effectiveness by focusing on results
- Allocate resources strategically