Step 8 - evaluation of your consultation
Effective evaluation can help you find out what did and didn't work and the reasons why. Always ask participants for their views about the consultation process and how it could be improved.
Your evaluation should not only consider the number of responses received, but also the quality, cost, and timeliness of the consultation and the overall usefulness of the results in helping;ping to inform decisions.
- Did everyone involved (staff, consultees, partners) understand the objectives of the exercise?
- Were the right stakeholders involved?
- Did you successfully reach all your stakeholders?
- Were the numbers who took part as expected?
- If you had set a minimum response level did you reach your targets?
- Were you successful in reaching groups or individuals whose views have not traditionally been recognised?
- Did the publicity material you used work (e.g posters to advertise an event, putting material on the internet, press releases)?
- Did you get the level of information you provided right? (e.g. it was easy to access, relevant to the consultation, produce in plain language, easy to understand and available in other languages and in other formats, e.g. Braille and audio cassette, where necessary)
- Was the consultation accessible (e.g interpreters were provided if necessary, venues were accessible, seating and set up encourage participation)?
- Did the methods used achieve the objectives?
- Was there the right balance of qualitative and quantitative methods?
- If you used more than one method, which worked better than others and why?
- Did some methods work better with particular stakeholders than others? Note this for future.
- Was the timescale and process kept to? If not, why not?
- Did you get the information you wanted in sufficient time, depth and quality?
- Were the level of resources and support right?
- Did you budget adequately? Note areas of overspend/savings for next time
- What were the costs (include staff time)?
- Were there any unforeseen costs? What were they?
- How did the participants evaluate it? - What did they think of the information provided?
- Was it easy to give views? Did they perceive the exercise as fair and useful?
- Did it lead to a change of policy, service etc., how? Be specific.
- How many people will be affected by the changes?
- Has the consultation changed the relationship between you and your users and others?
- What would you do differently next time?
Why evaluate and what to do with the results
Evaluating consultation can help you to:
- Find out what worked and what did not
- Identify the reasons for unexpected outcomes
- Apply learning to improve future consultation
- Assess whether the exercise was cost effective in terms of time and resources.
Performance management issues
We need to know whether our consultation activities are supporting our vision for community engagement, as outlined in the strategy. we are in the process of developing a number of methods to measure this, including:
- Using the Community Engagement Standard as the basis for judging success
- Identifying the criteria communities would use to judge successful engagement
- By asking communities what they would count as a success in their terms
- Determining a standard for community cohesion which could be used to judge whether the council's activities are contributing to community well - being
More importantly, you will need to identify which performance indicators the changes to your service or policies will impact upon. You will need to record and measure the impact upon. You will need to record and measure the impact. Please contact the performance unit for further advice on this. you should also check if there are any consultation related performance indicators.