Project planning and evaluation

Introduction

This guidance document aims to help you build a viable project plan for a crime prevention project.

Projects need to demonstrate clear goals, objectives and viability - with measurable outcomes and indicators. This document provides you with the preliminary planning framework to help you build such a project.

There are essentially three phases in a project lifecycle:

While not a separate phase, evaluation (which includes ongoing, mid-term, and final evaluation) is an essential part of the cycle, occurs throughout the life of the project, and informs all phases.

Project lifecycle

Where are you in the project life cycle?

You will first need to determine the phase for which you will be seeking funds.

Phase 1: Needs assessment

Your group knows there are some crime problems/issues in the community, but you do not know how big the problems are, whom they affect or what should be done about them. This is the very beginning of the project lifecycle, Needs Assessment, and it could be the focus of a project.

Phase 2: Project planning

Your community has already identified the specific crime or victimization problem/needs in your community and now wants to plan specific crime prevention activities to address those issues. This is the second phase of the project lifecycle, Project planning, and it could be the focus of a project.

Phase 3: Implementation

Your group knows the problems/issues in your community, you have consulted the community and developed a project plan with specific crime prevention activities to address those problems/issues and you are ready to start the project. This is the third phase of the project lifecycle, Implementation, and it could be the focus of a project.

Phase 1 - Needs assessment

This part of the project lifecycle focuses on the community and identifies the specific crime-prevention issue, problem or need to be addressed. It aims to also identify the risk factors that help to explain why a problem exists and the protective factors that can contribute to the solution. (for definitions and examples, see the Risk and Protective Factors fact sheet, which can be found in the Applicants Guide.)

The following are questions that you will need to answer in order to build a plan and submit a project proposal for this phase. By answering the questions you will give structure to your project objectives and determine the necessary inputs and activities.

On what specific crime or victimization issue in your community will this project focus?

Refer to Appendix 1 - Sample project plan for an example that includes a needs assessment phase.

Phase 2 - Project planning

This part of the project lifecycle builds on what was discovered in the first phase. It focuses on what your crime prevention project is actually going to do and how it will address the problem/needs identified in your community. You will need to answer the following questions before assembling the comprehensive project plan:

After you identify what your crime prevention project could do, make a plan to put it into action:

Refer to Appendix 1 - Sample project plan for an example of the project planning phase of a project.

Phase 3 - Implementation

This is the phase of the project lifecycle where your crime prevention project comes to life.

How will you start the project?

  1. Do you have a clear project work plan (see Phase 2 - Project planning)?
  2. Is everything accounted for in your budget?
  3. Do you have things in place to carry out, monitor and evaluate your project?

Refer to Appendix 1 - Sample project plan for an example of the Implementation phase of a project.

How to develop your project plan

Using your answers to the questions in the first part of this guidance document, you are now ready to build your project plan. The steps described demonstrate how you would go about developing your project plan.

  1. Identify your project goaland who you intend to serve.
  2. Identify the objectives that will lead to your goal.
  3. Establish what the components of your project will be - that is, your broad strategies or service areas.
  4. Describe the project inputs. Who and what will be required to operate your project?
  5. For each component, describe your activities. Who will do what, and when?
  6. Identify the outputs of your activities. How many participants do you expect? What (and sometimes, how many) tools, materials, or events will be produced?
  7. Identify the outcomes linked to these activities. Remember that outcomes represent changes you hope to see result from your activities; they are not just the delivery of the activities themselves. You will want to mention the short-term and intermediate outcomes of your activities, making sure that these in turn link to your overall goal(s).

Refer to Appendix 1 - Sample project plan for an example and Terminology for definitions.

More about objectives and outcomes

When you identify your own objectives and outcomes, be sure they are "SMART":

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant (and realistic)
  • Trackable

Objectives and outcomes should be described with action words that indicate the direction of change. Words such as "increase", "improve" or "reduce" are good examples. Saying that a project objective is "to provide recreational opportunities" does not tell us anything about the purpose of those recreational activities or the changes they are expected to bring about. Programs or projects are developed to make change. They are not developed simply for the sake of delivering products or services alone. Saying that these recreational opportunities are going to increase teamwork and leadership skills or reduce vandalism in the after-school hours makes them into SMART objectives.

Evaluation planning

Evaluation planning comes down to two questions:

It is about building benchmarks and accountability into your plan, and using them to evaluate the plan as you go and after the project is finished. It gives your project a more strategic structure, provides evidence for your results and, importantly, contributes to the knowledge base about effective crime prevention.

Valid and reliable measurement tools

Valid measurement tools provide information that is a good reflection of what they are trying to measure. For example, if you wanted to measure the extent to which people were victims of a certain type of crime, you might want to look at more than just the number of reports to police since we know that many crimes are unreported.

Reliable instruments provide information that is likely to be consistent over time. It will not be affected by small changes in such things as the mood of people who respond to a survey or other circumstances unique to the day on which they complete the survey.

Quality and consistency

Quality evaluations also use consistent data collection procedures. For example, interview questions should be asked to all participants in the same way, and interviewees should be careful to record the same information at every session.

Where possible, collect data before and after a project. When data is collected only at the end of the project, you can't tell whether there was actually any change that occurred.

Good evaluations require resources - that is, time and money. Some evaluation-related activities may be carried out by project staff (for example, questionnaires can be administered by a project coordinator), research assistants (for example, students may compile and analyse data) or by people with special expertise (for example, an evaluation consultant might draft your questionnaire).

Be realistic when establishing the outcomes you choose to measure
Your project goal might be to reduce the number of a certain type of crime in your community. This may require the modification of behaviour in a community that takes place over five to ten years to achieve any reduction. To measure those long-term trends may not be realistic. In this case, you should focus on some short- and medium-term outcomes.

How to develop your evaluation plan

The steps described demonstrate how you would go about developing your evaluation plan.

  1. Determine what information you will need to collect:
    • To see how your project is doing day to day (on-going monitoring)
    • To see if you are on track to achieve your intended results, if you are on time and if you are using resources as planned mid-way through your project (mid-term evaluation), so that you may make adjustments as needed
    • To see if the overall changes you were trying to achieve actually happened by the end of the project (final evaluation) and identify what you learned.
  2. Determine your information sources/data collection methods. Sources of information may include project staff, other agencies, participants and their families, members of the public and the media. Information may be collected via a variety of methods, including:
    • Project records such as project activity log/daily journal: A book where you write down what happens each day. It is a useful source to document many of your indicators and will be helpful to you when writing the final project report.
    • Number and type of documents produced during the project (tools, flyers, advertisements, media coverage of your event/project, curriculum, etc)
    • Information collected about your participants related to the project (number attending sessions, information about who they are - age, gender, education, background, culture, etc)
    • Data from official sources (e.g. school records, census data, health data)
    • Questionnaires or surveys
    • Interviews or focus groups
    • Observation of project activities or locations in the community (e.g. track graffiti, condition of playground, activity in public spaces, etc)
  3. Determine the frequency of the data collection and who will collect the information.
  4. Finally, determine how you will analyse your data and report your findings to funders, your community and your project partners and stakeholders.

See Appendix 2 - Sample evaluation plan for insights on how to create an evaluation plan.

Terminology

Goal
A goal is the long-term change in specific problems or situations that you want to see in your community.
Objective
Project objectives stem from the project goal(s) but are more specific and concrete. Objectives are then achieved through activities.
Input
Inputs identify the resources that are needed to make your project operate. They include things such as staff, facilities and equipment.
Activity
Activities are what the project will do to achieve the desired objectives.
Output
Outputs are the products, goods or services you expect to produce or deliver as part of your project, or the number of people you expect to serve. They represent the concrete results of your activities.
Outcome
Outcomes are the impacts or changes your project activities are expected to make in your community. Outcomes usually occur in stages. Some happen soon after the activities occur (immediate outcomes). These outcomes in turn lead to others down the road (intermediate and long-term outcomes). The long-term outcomes are usually the same as the overall goal(s), while the immediate and intermediate outcomes are similar to objectives. Sometimes several activities work together to achieve one outcome and sometimes one activity has several outcomes.
Indicator
An indicator is information that is collected about a particular process or outcome that lets you know whether it has occurred or not. It tells you what is observable and measurable. Ultimately, all the indicators together tell you whether your project was able to achieve its main objectives and if it went along as planned.
Sources/Methods
Information sources and data collection methodsare simply about where, how and when you will collect the information to document your indicators. Sources of information may include project staff, other agencies, participants and their families, members of the public and the media. Information may be collected via a variety of methods.

Appendix 1 - Sample project plan

Objective(s):

Appendix 1 - Sample project plan: Objectives
Inputs

What resources are needed to make your project operate?
Activities

What activities will take place during the project?
Outputs

How many and what kind of products/services will be generated from these activities?
Outcomes

What will happen as a result of your project?
Project coordinator

Meeting space Transportation

Library resources
Phase 1
Problem assessment, consultation and development of crime prevention purpose (assessment phase)


Organize meetings with key stakeholders (youth, parents, youth workers, school representatives, police, social workers, public health, etc.) to discuss dating violence as a current community problem.

Get information on dating violence: books, articles, newspaper, statistics and reports.

Identify risk factors (RF) and protective factors (PF) related to dating violence: gender (RF), low self-esteem (RF), negative attitudes about women/girls (RF), supportive adult role models (PF).
Participation of key stakeholders/people who would like to help with the project

Research activities completed

Project plan developed
Increased involvement of community stakeholders in collaborative efforts to reduce dating violence (immediate outcome)
Volunteer staff

Funding to cover design, printing costs
Phase 2
Curriculum design

Volunteer public health nurse and social worker will design curriculum that will include individual work, discussion groups, role modelling, skills training, a written information package and a community outreach component.

A subcommittee of key stakeholders will review and approve curriculum content.
Working sessions held to draft curriculum

Curriculum that conforms to best practices in the literature, responds to community needs and is feasible given project resources

Curriculum available and ready to use on time
Increased availability of prevention resources relevant to the local community (immediate outcome)
Project staff

Meeting space
Phase 3
Mentors deliver the curriculum (Implementation)


Select and train mentors. Mentors will deliver the curriculum including individual activities to examine issues related to self-esteem; group exercises such as content analysis of film, music videos and other media to identify sex-role stereotypes communicated to youth; discussion about how youth receive these messages, what youth seek in intimate relationships and how they react when their needs are not met; and assertiveness, communication and conflict-resolution skills training to help youth clarify their needs and communicate them to others in clear and positive ways.
Fifteen mentors are hired, trained

Sessions are offered weekly to youth at the local youth centre

Approximately 75 youth are reached
Increased participant awareness about factors that contribute to teen dating violence (immediate outcome)

Improved communication skills (intermediate outcome)

Increased use of non-violent conflict resolution skills by participants (intermediate outcome)
Rental facility

Funding for information display, printing costs, audio-visual equipment.
Phase 3
Public awareness activities (Implementation)


Mentors work with participants to arrange interviews with local print and radio media to discuss what they've learned about the root causes of violence in dating relationships and to invite the community to a public awareness night.

Participants put together an information booth and a public presentation based on the projects and ideas they worked on during the year in the mentoring sessions.
Coverage in the local paper and on the local radio station

Information booth and public presentation are held

Information packages are produced and distributed

Approximately 150 people attend the event
Increased community awareness of the root causes of dating violence (immediate outcome)

Improved community perceptions of the benefits of prevention activities to reduce dating violence (immediate outcome)

Appendix 2 - Sample evaluation plan

Objective(s):

Appendix 2 - Sample evaluation plan: Objectives
Outcomes

What will happen as a result of your project?
Indicators

How will you know that the project is achieving its objectives and outcomes?
Sources/methods

What proposed source/method will be used to gather the information?
Source of Information Tool/instrument used Frequency of collection
Phase 1
Increased involvement of community stakeholders in collaborative efforts to reduce dating violence
Number of stakeholders who attend planning meetings

Number of volunteer/in-kind hrs spent on collaborative efforts
Project records Minutes taken at meetings

Time sheets maintained by stakeholders
Monthly

Ongoing record-keeping
Enhanced commitment of key stakeholders to a comprehensive, evidence-based plan for addressing dating violence in the community Number of stakeholders who have "signed on" to the project

Extent to which plan reflects knowledge of "what works" to prevent dating violence among youth
Letters of commitment

Project Plan

Literature
Comparison of project plan to best practices identified in the literature End of project
Phase 2
Increased availability of prevention resources that conform to best practices in the literature and respond to community needs
Extent to which curriculum reflects what is known about "what works"

Extent to which curriculum is appropriate to the local context

Extent to which curriculum is made available to the wider community
Project Plan

Literature

Stakeholders

Project records
Comparison of project plan to best practices identified in the literature Key informant interviews with stakeholders and mentors End of project

End of project

Ongoing record-keeping
Phase 3 Increased participant awareness about factors that contribute to teen dating violence Level of knowledge about factors leading to dating violence among youth Participants Test of participant awareness of the factors leading to dating violence Before project sessions start and again when they are finished
Improved communication skills Level of communication skills among youth in project Participants Analysis of video-taped role play exercises Start and end of project
Increased participant use of non-violent conflict resolution Level of conflict resolution skills among youth in project Participants Video-taped role play exercises Start and end of project
Percentage of information night attendees who report they are more aware of the root causes of dating violence after the evening than they were before Attendees at information night One-page survey of a random sample of people attending the public awareness night End of the event
Percentage of information night attendees who report they are have more positive perceptions of the benefits of prevention activities after the evening than before Attendees at information night One-page survey of a random sample of people attending the public awareness night End of the event
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