Thanks for taking time to read my blog on developing an evaluation budget! My name is Cori Beskow. I manage ARC Evaluation and instruct PSYC 722C: Budgeting for an Evaluation within the Evaluation Studies program at UW-Stout.
PSYC 722C is a .3 credit online module focused on developing a budget for an evaluation. One of the learning objectives of this module is to identify the specific costs of an evaluation.
This learning objective aligns with competency 4.4 of the Professional Practice domain: Negotiates and manages a feasible evaluation plan, budget, resources, and timeline.
I used to be surprised by how most people underestimate the time and cost of a quality evaluation. Now we just expect this and are prepared to explain why an evaluation shouldn’t be short or cheap. Clients usually have a dollar figure in mind when contacting you. You need to be able to explain what you can do for that amount of money, and what you could do with MORE money. Communicating value is just as critical as identifying costs.
The client won’t always have access to extra funds, but they’ll have a better understanding of the comprehensive costs. This helps future conversations and the relationship with that client. If they return for another project, they know what to expect right from the beginning.
The other major issue with budgeting comes in after the project has already started. You guessed it! Scope creep. It might not seem like a lot to add in an extra qualitative question or conduct a few more interviews. Ensure your initial contract line items exactly what you will do for the agreed upon amount.
If additional work is requested, go back to the budget and provide your client with an update on how much the extra work will cost. They can decide if they want to pay to have the additional work completed or just stick with the original plan. Remember to consider all your time and costs when developing your budget!
How did you learn about developing a budget? What KSA’s do you possess that help you properly budget for an evaluation project? We’re gathering data on EvalKSA’s, share your responses to these questions with us!
Do you need additional training or professional development around budgeting? Our online training modules are available to start any time. They are self-paced and typically take between 9-12 hours. Sign up today!
This blog post is part of a series that explores the relationship between the proposed American Evaluation Association competencies for evaluators and how they align with KSA’s needed to embody them in our work.