5. Reflect & Evaluate: users and lessons learnt

EVALUATE//REFLECT//LEARN

Overview

The AmbITion Approach requires organisations and individuals to undergo a process of continual reflection and evaluation. The various steps in the approach provide natural pauses where this can take place. From initiating a project, through audit and diagnosis, onto developing a business case and through implementation, the online toolkit encourages ongoing reflection on the nature of your digital development and the impact it will have on your organisation.

Evaluate the views of the users of your new digital products and services

It’s very important to survey the users of your new products/services/tools/methods once you’ve implemented them. Not only will this show you where you’ve improved things for them, it will also clarify where work is still to be done: either on the digital development itself, or on the job of communicating how the digital development should be used, or why. You’ve just been on a journey of change: remember that a new system you’re introducing to your customers is a change for them, and they may need assistance and motivation! Scanning the market reaction to your development is essential. It is also ongoing: your rejuvenated solution is always at risk of being affected by external factors out of your control, so make sure you are continuously assessing the development and scanning the wider environment.

Invite a cross section of your organisations’ users in to show them the new development and use it themselves. Rather than tell them what to do, sit back and watch how they orientate and navigate themselves through it. Notice: do certain demographics find it easier? (Certain groups may need more support to change their practices and engage with the new development. How will you provide this?) Are there common mistakes being made? (Do you need additional help or explanatory text?) Are people doing unexpected things? (Does this give you insight into a need for a potential new digital development?)
Lessons Learnt

At the end of the project think of “lessons learnt” as the things that you got wrong as well as the things that went right. Sharing areas of failure as well as success with colleagues in your own organisation and with colleagues in the wider sector is incredibly useful as it builds the sector’s collective knowledge and capability to evolve and adapt; and embeds the learning of what (and what not) to do to ensure digital developments maximise their potential.

e.g.

  • Did you create any useful documents or templates that could be used again? For instance, you might have written a job description for someone with digital skills.
  • What changed on the project that made things better? For instance, a “brainstorming” session, or a visit to a conference might have given people enthusiasm and understanding that they used in the project.
  • Did you use or see any useful tools? Maybe a visiting artist used a particular video camera, or a piece of software that was useful, or someone set up a useful spreadsheet to manage the project.
  • How good was your planning? We always meet deadlines when we have to – e.g. the opening of an exhibition – but where the deadlines are self-imposed, such as with a website development, delays often happen. Were our timescales unrealistic? Or did unexpected events delay things?
  • Did you achieve the outcomes you expected? This is the big one. You should go back to your business case and see what you had hoped to achieve. Were they realistic? Is it too early to tell? Or have you just got so involved with the implementation process, that you’ve forgotten why you wanted to do this in the first place? When a project ends is often when the real work begins.
  • Of the things that went wrong, can you explain why, and what you would do differently or modify to ensure they might not go wrong the next time?
This case study by AmbITion Scotland organisation Edinburgh Printmakers shares lessons learnt – the bits that didn’t work out so well have been shared so that other organisations can learn!
What’s Next?

You might want to reflect and evaluate your digital development project from an internal or external perspective. You should now be ready to start your next digital project with the confidence that comes from having successfully delivered your previous project. Good luck, and if you’ve a good story to tell, then we’d love to hear about it!