5. Professionalization of Evaluation

Our sincere thanks to those who drafted text: Awny Amer, Susan Branker Greene, Mauricio Dorantes, Benoît Gauthier, Keiko Kuji-Shikatani, Alan Mackie, Martha McGuire, and Gunter Rochow.

This Professionalization of Evaluation section of the VOPE Toolkit offers resources to VOPEs to foster a discussion on professionalizing evaluation that enables the selection of a country-appropriate path. 

A VOPE’s path likely necessitates five ingredients: 

1. Definition. Clear definition of what professionalization means for your VOPE. Professionalization is defined differently by different people. The first step of discussing professionalising is to consider how your VOPE will define that term. At IOCE, we define professionalization as a collective set of actions aiming to equip evaluators with strong values, knowledge and skills in evaluation that supports the likelihood of quality and useful evaluations. A secondary conversation is whether your VOPE wishes to use the term “professionalization.” For example, in South Africa, the South African M&E Association (SAMEA) refers to “strengthening”, not “professionalizing” evaluators and evaluation. 

2. Reasons. Clear reasons that the VOPE aims to have a professionalization process. Discussions here often focus around the identified challenges that professionalization aims to address, how professionalizing aims to strengthen what is currently taking place, or both. This includes exploring three levels: individual, institutional and systems. 

3. Mechanisms. The concrete mechanisms that aim to build capacity and continually enhance or maintain the capacity of individuals, and where relevant, institutions, and supporting systems.

4. Strategy. A clear strategy that addresses the reasons identified above and lists the most relevant set of mechanisms adapted to a given context; this most likely includes a holistic strategy that aims to strengthen individuals, institutions, and systems toward these aims.

5. Engagement and reflection. All four discussions require engagement with key stakeholder groups, and perhaps those who are somewhat hidden. Once identified, an organized reflective process should support Steps 1-4. This process will likely be iterative. 

The IOCE recognizes that evaluation communities have different histories, trajectories, and levels of maturity. The resources offered here respect these differences while opening the dream of an evaluation profession where all evaluators have a clear path to becoming a professional evaluator.

Click the topic header below to access additional information and a rich set of resources.

The first ingredient of your VOPE’s journey toward professionalization is the establishment of a clear definition of what it is and what it means for your VOPE.

Why promote the professionalization of evaluation? Reasons can be found at four interrelated levels.

This section considers the concrete mechanisms that aim to build capacity and continually enhance or maintain the capacity of individuals, institutions, and ecosystems.

The previous sections address the “what” (definition), “why” (reasons), and “how” (mechanisms) of the professionalization journey. It is time to think about the road or set of roads that is likely to bring the national evaluation professionalization picture from the current to the sought (even ideal) state.

It is well established that change initiatives that do not involve the people concerned do not last. Initiatives should focus on the needs and rights of the community; this will ultimately establish people’s ownership of the initiative and such ownership will bring sustainability to the change. The role of the change agent (for example, the VOPE) will be as a facilitator during the implementation of the initiative.

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