Achievement of objectives
At the end of a project there is an evaluation which judges if aims and objectives have been achieved. The extent or level of such an achievement will be assessed by self-evaluation (insider evaluation) or an evaluation carried out by external evaluators (outside evaluation). In order to conclude a project in a satisfactory way it is important to carry out a collective final assessment meeting during the last phase. This provides an opportunity to reflect on the last phase and on the achievement of the project objectives in general.
In addition to interpreting results on the basis of the available objective data, the team members' individual subjective experiences must also be taken into account. In the final assessment meeting team members may express and reflect on both positive and negative experiences, the way they feel about work within the team or the use of resources. Important findings and conclusions should be recorded in the final report.
Usually, a project achieves intended and unintended effects on various levels. Intended effects or outcomes can be checked against the indicators that have been defined for each objective. However, given the complexity both of the intervention and of the social system where the intervention takes place, it is rarely possible to attribute observed effects unequivocally to particular measures that have been implemented by the project. It is only possible to explain effects with some degree of plausibility. Unintended effects must also be incorporated in the evaluation. They may be found on various levels and are relevant for the global assessment of a project. Careful context description is important when documenting and interpreting effects, so that the reported outcomes become fully understandable. Such a description also makes clear that all effects are context dependent.
Why you would disregard these aspects
- It is hardly possible to demonstrate health promoting or preventive effects.
- Originally, no thought had been given to use of questionnaires, interviews or other evaluation methods for measuring the attainment of each objective.
- The original formulation of the objectives was too vague and an assessment of their attainment is not possible.
- There is an 'end-of-term' feeling and the team is not in the right frame of mind to deliberate on the project's achievements.
- You are dissatisfied with the results of the project and are worried that your competencies and achievements may be put into question.
What you have to gain
Assessing your project’s effects will provide an opportunity for you and your team to come to a final conclusion about your achievements. You can draw on the positive experiences for further reference and future projects. If you conduct a formal final assessment about goal attainment:
- You can reflect on certain experiences and learn from them.
- You can celebrate success.
- You can work through disappointments.
- You can finalize all remaining tasks.
- You can put a formal end to the project which allows the team members to move on (mentally) and to put their energies into new project ideas or to concentrate on a follow-up project.
What you can actually do
- Think about who should participate in the wrap-up meeting and invite all the people you have identified.
- Make sure that significant insights gained during the project are shared with all the participants.
- Make a presentation of as many experiences as possible, using a diversity of methods, including visual presentation.
Questions for critical reflection
- Is there a final detailed analysis of each objective?
- Is there evidence for the achievement of each project objective?
- Have unintended effects been identified and documented?
- Have all persons concerned with the project been included in assessing the achievement of objectives?