IMPACT EVALUATION 

The question largely on the minds of all development stakeholders today is "How do we ensure effectiveness of resource (largely government budgets and aid) utilization?", and there seems to be no single answer of how to achieve this. The lack of an appropriate silver bullet is a function not just of the complexity of the issues being addressed and the diversity of stakeholders, but also the conflicting interests of various stakeholders.

No two interventions are identical, no two evaluations are the same.
 
It is in this context that a consultative approach to assessment and evaluation design becomes critical. At Athena, we are not only able to leverage our experience and expertise in such consultative processes across diverse situations, but are able to blend this with robust analysis frameworks that accurately measure the Theory of Change (Target - Treatment/Inputs - Outputs - Outcomes - Impact) in any given context.
 
Athena's success in diverse assessment and evaluation projects range from "Evaluation of India's largest entrepreneurship program in universities", to an "Evaluation of the post award governance and performance of diverse PPP projects in India", to an "Evaluation of India's SME ecosystem for gender sensitive biases".
 
The core of Athena’s assessment and evaluation philosophy is the belief that these exercises should not be so much about evaluation as much as they should be about continuous improvement and impact. This allows us to take a systemic approach to most monitoring, assessment and evaluation assignments. Be it an evaluation design, a baseline, mid-term or end-line assessment, or the implementation of a performance evaluation framework, we believe in the approach of "Creating TOOLS and ASSETS" that the program, project, client or policy maker can use not just on an ongoing basis but also build upon as the needs of their measurement agenda increase. Such an approach drives two things; (1) It enables in the dissemination of our continuous improvement and delivering impact philosophy, and (2) Helps institutionalize assessments and evaluation as part of the day-to-day functioning at some of these offices.
 
A prime example of this is Athena's work with urban local bodies in Tamil Nadu, where we have not only established a framework for performance assessment based on global, national and local benchmarks, but have been able to enable the ecosystem use it by implementing an ICT based solution and more importantly delivered on the mandate of enabling knowledge sharing amongst the ULBs on leading practices and create an environment of incentive for continuous improvement.
 
Approach
Athena's assessments and evaluation practice translates into a focus on learning, predictive analysis and future focused & action oriented evaluations. Not everything can be quantified and not everything non-quantifiable is useless from an assessment standpoint. This is a key learning that today's evaluation practitioners fail to grasp. At Athena, we have realized this very early on and hence are able to not only carry out qualitative and quantitative assessments independently but are able to blend the two to ensure multiplicative results in terms of outcomes.
 
 
Effectiveness is not about just measuring, yet this is a key starting point.
 
Broadly, Athena's evaluation work encompasses the 4 Ps of Policy, Programs, Projects and Portfolio. We help policy makers drive meaningful macro outcomes, programs deliver on intended micro outcomes, projects execute on specific micro impact and portfolio measure macro impact of their investment interests. We do so across the value chain starting with design, and extending into pilot and scale up of interventions. The team provides the following sub-services:
 
  • Assessment and Evaluation Designs: Frameworks, Tool Kit and multi-layered evaluation designs that help programs at any stage of the implementation cycle incorporate the best of econometric inputs into improving outcomes.
  • Assessment and Evaluation Execution: Across all types of field research methodologies including but not restricted to primary field surveys, stakeholder consultations, data gathering, preparation, analysis and presentation.
  • Assessment and Evaluation Dissemination: Ability to articulate rigorous econometric solutions in understandable policy and program language is not only a lacuna in today’s ecosystem it is also a key step to bringing researchers and practitioners on the same table. We do it through case study approaches or through presenting the translation mechanisms in story telling fashion across the Theory of Change.
  • Assessment and Evaluation Infrastructure: Includes both hard and soft infrastructure necessary for robust evaluations and may include organizational capacity assessments, institutional audits related to governance mechanisms and augmenting key capacity gaps through organic and partnership means.
  • Assessment and Evaluation Capacity: Trainings and Knowledge Transfers on key tools and techniques of performance monitoring and evaluations resulting in greater awareness and skills to ensure effective implementation of audit, measurement and evaluation designs.
  • Assessment and Evaluation Analytics: Augment ad-hoc evaluations with robust data science platforms, analytics engine development or decision support systems that enable multi-modal analysis across multiple programs and stakeholder groups.
  • Assessment and Evaluation Technology: Systems, Tools, Platforms that help collect and synthesize data in the upstream and disseminate information effectively downstream and help with ICT enabled monitoring of progress.
  • Assessment and Evaluation Enablement: Impact outcomes on an ongoing basis by integrating evaluation into day-to-day functioning within the ecosystem; this could translate into organizational roles, technology infrastructure, institutional processes, procedural or regulatory mechanisms, building incentive structures for optimal functioning or any combination of these as deemed fit in the context of the evaluation.
 
The DEDICATE framework is dedicated to enabling Athena's philosophy of Assessments and Evaluation be the game changer in terms of using data to drive meaningful policy while also ensuring that a path to sustained impact is created in any and every context.
 
It is certainly not so much about evaluations, as much as it is about continuous improvement and impact.