Program Evaluation & Business Case Analysis

Program evaluation is important. It generates feedback to those providing the program or service and it helps funders understand their impact. At EcoPlan we employ proven participatory evaluation approaches, but we also incorporate innovative techniques that come from other disciplines. This is often necessary because conducting program evaluations is challenging. There is often a lack of monitoring data or a clear baseline: there are barriers to achieving rigour, such deadweight, attribution and displacement: objectives can be unclear or limited. However, what is often the most challenging is that many of impacts (benefits and costs) are complex and intangible. As a result, the overall value created by the programs can be difficult to measure. This means that important aspects of programs may not be fully understood or appreciated by important partners (e.g., interested and affected parties such as funders and government agencies, the general public, and – in some cases – program beneficiaries themselves).

We are also qualified to take the next step of developing a business case. Our application of tools and techniques from decision sciences differs from conventional approaches in that it includes both market and non-market costs and benefits in the analysis. This means that in addition to identifying and measuring financial costs and benefits, our assessments also evaluate costs and benefits associated with a wide range of other value dimensions as well (social, political, cultural, etc.). While these non-market costs and benefits are described in qualitative terms in our reports, they have also been translated into dollar terms using methods from applied research in the fields of decision analysis and behavioural economics (as opposed to Cost Benefit Analysis approaches). This allows us to calculate a return on investment (ROI) that is helpful in communicating net benefits from an investment in a program that is not looking for a financial return. Communities, governments, funders, and taxpayers want to know if their money is being well used and if the investment is ‘worth it’. In other words, they would like to understand the value of the outcomes of the investment. Using dollar figures to represent value across multiple dimensions helps to answer these questions and tell the story of program benefits and adverse impacts and, it does so in a language familiar to business and government: money and the value generated from an investment. EcoPlan has used these methods to evaluate both market and non-market costs and benefits for social and cultural evaluations for over 20 years.

Are you interested in conducting better evaluations to measure progress, improve program quality and communicate success?  Contact us.