In the best of times, even a well meaning Project director, PI, or a Co-PI of an awarded grant may sometimes “forget” about evaluation and the evaluator. Once an evaluator is “acquired/ brought on board to a grant,” sometimes, we can become the forgotten lot.
In some cases (speaking from experience), we are called in towards the end of the grant year/cycle to help “put something together” in the form of a report just to stay compliant with the funding agency.
Let’s do better!
Here are a few tips and approaches to help a PI/Co-PI to be proactive and prevent this pitfall.
A strong and positive relationship with an evaluator is possible when they are:
- An integral part of the team. Meaning, the evaluators are invited to pertinent project planning and implementation meetings throughout the grant cycle. (More regularly in the beginning and then spaced, as needed.)
- Considered critical friends and thought-partners in the grant from beginning to the end
The Project team:
- Shares meeting notes and project documents which could be via a shared space such as DropBox, Box, G drive, SharePoint, OneDrive that is accessible to pertinent members of the team including the evaluator
- Invites the evaluator to project related events / sessions (these are especially useful in scholarship and training grants) which could be potential data collection opportunities for the evaluators
- Informs the evaluator if and when there are any changes / deviations to the project’s objectives / activities
- Share extant/institutional data in a timely fashion
- Collaborates with them so they can align their activities to the objectives
- Communicates regularly via emails, virtual meetings, and even texts, if needed
- Pays them well and on time!
By the same token, there are some tips and approaches for evaluators too:
As they say, ask and you shall receive — well, most of the time!
- Communicate early and often! Can’t emphasize this enough for both the PI/Co-PI and the evaluator. Don’t wait for them to initiate a meeting/call, especially, if you need the information to continue doing your work efficiently and effectively
- Ask to be a part of the team— attend meetings, take/ share notes
- Provide formative feedback: verbally or in the form of summary reports
- Develop a positive (and patient!) relationship with the client – it takes time to build trust
- Set up regular meetings, ask for changes in the objectives, activities
- Remember: You won’t know if you don’t ask!Did I miss anything?