Formative Evaluation

Thinking Forward

Formative evaluation begins during project initiation and continues until project closure. Its intent is to evaluate ongoing project activities and provide timely information. Formative evaluation is a method of assessing a project within the intent to improve a project or phase(s) of a project (process groups):
  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Monitoring/Controlling
  • Closing
The focus of Formative evaluation is developmental with a goal of making things better. What is being reviewed in this context are things such as:
  • Process Improvement Plans
  • Strategic Plans
  • Tactical Plans
  • Succession Plans
  • Business Continuity Plans
  • Disaster Recovery Plans
Formative evaluation can also be used to address process enhancements with project elements (knowledge areas):
  • Communications
  • Cost
  • Human Resource
  • Integration
  • Procurement
  • Quality
  • Risk
  • Scope
  • Stakeholder
  • Time

Formative evaluation is:

  • like a driver looking through the windshield and making an assessment on the driving conditions they are experiencing so they can make improvements in their driving; whereas, Summative evaluation is like a driver looking through the rear-view mirror and making a judgment on how safe they drove during the snow.
  • like a cook sampling the food as it is cooking (adding ingredients to adjust the taste) until it reaches the desired taste; whereas, Summative evaluation is like a guest eating what has been prepared and filling out a comment card.
  • like a company putting in place test systems to avoid a potential disaster, including policies and procedures; whereas, Summative evaluation is like determining who was responsible for a spill that occurred.

Formative evaluation has two components: Process evaluation and Progress evaluation.

  • Process evaluation assesses whether the project is being implemented as planned. In other words, are the policies and procedures in place working as anticipated.
  • Progress evaluation determines achievement in meeting the project objectives. Here, the project team is trying to determine if milestones are being met.