More Bang for Your Buck: Value Engineering Evaluation Services

Written by: Beeta Tahmassebi, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

We often hear the term “value engineering” in reference to health care or the construction industry. While the term has sometimes seemed synonymous with cost cutting, at its heart, value-engineering is meant to enhance the value of a product, system or service by taking a function-oriented, systematic, team approach that results in the biggest bang for money spent.

Value engineering aims to figure out how exactly to provide quality services within constrained environments.  Caroline Heider, Director General of the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank, calls it “value for money” evaluation. In a blog post on this topic, Heider adds “for whom?”, and urges clients and implementers of evaluation to ask:

  • Are we asking the right questions?
  • What is the intended use of this evaluation?
  • What value-added might be created from implementing our recommendations?
  • How can we conduct the evaluation and formulate recommendations to create the greatest possible value for different intended users?

Evaluation must prove its value. Siphoning off program funds to engage in M&E is a hard choice for leaders to make. Every dollar that is moved to M&E related activities is taken from program implementation and other areas in need of resources. This means that evaluators are facing an important call:

To engineer our services to allow for greatest use and learning and to deliver the best value for our efforts.

As EnCompass looks forward to providing technical and advisory services for USAID’s Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning, Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research through the Evaluation Services II IDIQ, we invite our IDIQ partners and the evaluation community to think about how to value engineer our solutions to allow for greatest impact and benefit. How do we ensure that solutions are right-sized and meaningful – appropriate for the task at hand and the resources available?

Our experience leads to emphasize five key elements in our work:

  • Utilization oriented designs – to ensure focus and alignment
  • Mixed-methodologies – to enhance confidence in the data and analysis
  • Participatory, appreciative engagement – to work smarter and faster by capitalizing on stakeholder knowledge, learn from successes, and invite stakeholder buy in
  • Whole-systems perspective – to testing assumptions and uncover factors that impinge on success
  • Engagement of local evaluators – to increase inclusion and ensure cultural competency

When a client selects us as their evaluation provider/partner, our work, the relevance of our findings and our ability to engage stakeholders make a difference – not only to program implementers but to all program participants on the ground. This is a responsibility that all evaluators must take seriously.

We invite you to think with us about this important question, so we can all get smarter together.

Beeta Tahmassebi

Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

Beeta Shadman Tahmassebi, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, oversees EnCompass' knowledge management and communications teams, manages enterprise risk management, and is Executive Director for the EnCompass Learning Center (ELC). From 2017 to 2020, Ms. Tahmassebi was also Director of Operations for The Evaluators' Institute. She has managed evaluation and development programs for a range of clients, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institutes of Health, USAID, Save the Children, Lutheran World Relief, IREX, American Library Association, Institute for Museum and Library Services, U.S. Department of Labor, World Food Programme, International Fund for Agricultural Development, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Marriot International, and Daimler AG. With many years of experience designing, managing, and evaluating capacity strengthening and learning programs, Ms. Tahmassebi is excited to provide high-quality professional development in evaluation, management, and international development to a global audience of learners through the ELC. She is a champion for young and emerging evaluators, bringing a strong commitment to lifelong learning to EnCompass' clients. Ms. Tahmassebi serves on the Board of Directors (2020 President-Elect and 2021 President) for Washington Evaluators, the largest local affiliate of the American Evaluation Association (AEA). She is a frequent presenter at special events and conferences, serves on the AEA Working Group for Evaluation Professionalization, and is an active member of the AEA local affiliates collaborative. She has an MBA from Georgetown University’s McDounough School of Business and is proficient in Farsi.

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