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Introduction to Evaluation Consulting - Jennifer Bisgard, Khulisa Management Services


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Presented by Jennifer Bisgard at 8th AfrEA International Conference in Kampala, Ghana.

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Introduction to Evaluation Consulting - Jennifer Bisgard, Khulisa Management Services

  1. 1. Evaluation ConsultingJennifer Bisgard, Khulisa Management Services Introduction to AfrEA Conference, Kampala Uganda March 28 2017
  2. 2. Stages Inception Survival Growth & Development Maturity
  3. 3. Inception
  4. 4. Stage 1: Inception Are you an entrepreneur?
  5. 5. Are you? Willing to take risk Tolerate uncertainty Persist & work long hours Ready to use Cash reserves Prepared with Multiple skill sets
  6. 6. Think analytically Don’t try to appeal to everyone Be honest with yourself Learn the lingo of your niche Commit 100% You will make mistakes; move on / / / / / / What kind of evaluation firm are you? Branding & Niche
  7. 7. What do you bring? LocationTechnical skills Context knowledge Language and cultural skills Contact with political or other Stakeholders
  8. 8. Niche Exercise (in pairs) If a client asked you to explain your understanding of evaluation, your approach to evaluation, how you would work with stakeholders, and so on, what would you tell him or her? Do you have a subject, geographic, linguistic or technical focus? What are your core values associated with being an evaluator? Why should a client hire you? Why evaluation and not basic research?
  9. 9. Once you have a niche / Try not to step outside its boundaries / Adhere to your values / Try to exceed your client’s expectations / Get to know your clients / Look for referrals & repeat business
  10. 10. Survival
  11. 11. Stage 2: Survival Tough cash flow Need to identify services (e.g. health, pension, computer support) Learn and understand contracts & subcontracts
  12. 12. Meeting with a Potential Clients: Do Your Homework  Systematically learn about the organization and its environment  Prepare thoughtful questions  Be ready to make methodological suggestions
  13. 13. Listen carefully Budget! In the meeting: Find out their Timing Quality assurance requirements
  14. 14. When bidding Adhere to deadlines Ensure your writing is specific & clear Budget according to the template provided Provide all compliance documents 1. 2. 3. 4.
  15. 15. Clients, Primes & Subs  Prime Contractors those who will take 51% or more of the work  Subcontractors an organization  Resource Partners  Independent consultants an individual
  16. 16. Contracts answer these questions: 1. How much will we get paid? And when? 3. How do we terminate a relationship that isn’t working? 4. How do we negotiate needed changes that become apparent as the work evolves? 6. What, exactly, will each organization be responsible for doing? 7. How can disputes be resolved? 2. Who owns the instruments, data and/or reports? 5. Who is the person in each organization who has the authority to sign off on major decisions?
  17. 17. ‘‘ “The more specific you can be regarding the work you or your evaluation company will do – and regarding what you are expecting your client to do – the better off both of you will be in the long run.” Contracting ● ALWAYS get it in writing. ● Assume nothing. ● Minute any changes and keep a clear paper trail
  18. 18. What rates do you need to charge to cover costs?
  19. 19. After you win an assignment  Do regular check-ins to ensure the client is on board  Watch out for scope creep  Manage expenses carefully  Ensure that trade-offs and changes are managed Time Quality Cost
  20. 20. Pricing Exercise  How many days can you work in a year?  What fringe benefits can be subtracted?  How many days will you spend on meeting with prospective clients and writing proposals?  How many days for administration, volunteering, attending conferences, personal development?  How many days left for billable work? Sick leave Family Responsibility leave Annual leave Public holidays
  21. 21. What other costs go into your daily rate? Office rent - Equipment - Furniture - Communications - Office supplies - Recruitment - Transportation Typical Fringe days 15 Annual leave 10 Sick Leave 3 Family Responsibility Leave 11 Public holidays Subtotal 39 days
  22. 22. Pricing Exercise responses Director Days Senior Days Billable time for Projects 35.0% 91.0 55.0% 143.0 Proposals/Marketing 30.4% 79.0 14.7% 38.2 Admin/volunteer/ conferences 20.4% 53.1 17.8% 46.3 Fringe 14.2% 36.9 12.5% 32.5 Total 260 260
  23. 23. Growth & Expansion
  24. 24. Stage 3: Growth & Expansion: ⁄ Taking on more employees, subcontracting ⁄ Handling bigger contracts ⁄ Institutionalising practices ⁄ Dealing with cash flow ⁄ Managing more complex clients & projects Managing growth requires
  25. 25. How can your niche expand organically? LocationTechnical skills Context knowledge Language and cultural skills Contact with political or other Stakeholders
  26. 26. Develop your skills & reputation  Mentor  Teach  Lead: Volunteer in VOPEs and take a role  Pro-bono work  Learn: Attend AfrEA and other conferences! But also learn business and other skills
  27. 27. Manage Cash Flow  Read contract provisions carefully!  Ask about invoicing  Try to establish a payment associated with contract signing or receipt of inception report  Ensure payment benchmarks e.g. 10% on signing 40% on approved tools (prior to fieldwork) 30% on draft report 10% on draft report presentation 10% when the client has accepted report and data
  28. 28. Use Metrics! ⁄ HR utilisation through Timesheets ⁄ Win Loss ratio ⁄ Profit analysis ⁄ Social media metrics
  29. 29. Maturity
  30. 30. ‘‘“Creating a business is in some ways analogous to raising a child - it is difficult to let go! Ultimately, long-term survival is contingent on turning over management to others.” Stage 4: Maturity Evaluation firms are often personality driven, so succession planning?
  31. 31. Continue to develop your business Consider marketing strategies (e.g. networking & proposals) Identify at least one way to improve efficiency & effectiveness Emphasise thought leadership & communications 1. 2. 3.
  32. 32. Plan for Succession Sell shares? Market the business? Close the business?
  33. 33. Love evaluation, but hate business? If you start an evaluation practice you need to think about Technical skillsBranding/ Marketing/ Communications Finance: pricing & managing cash flow ContractsHuman Resource
  34. 34. The Benefits are Worth it There are:  busy years and dry years  good and bad clients  dream projects and horror stories And at the same time:  You are the boss  You control your destiny  You can focus on your passion
  35. 35. Resources Independent consulting skills for evaluators – Gail Barrington “Consulting Start-up and Management: A Guide for Evaluator and Applied Researchers” and-management.html Business Management – Good to Great by Jim Collins (see: great.html) Client Relationships – Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith (see: Sales Strategy – Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer (see: Book-of-Selling-pluLRB.html) Networking – Never Eat Alone by Keith Farazzi (see: Join the American Evaluation Association Independent Consulting TIG Jennifer Bisgard +27 11 447 6464 Johannesburg South Africa 35