Learning from your projects: introduction
Tracking and measuring what you do is important: it’s through these insights that you can demonstrate impact and value. The information that you gather along the way can help to build a compelling case, and offer new insights that strengthen your practice.
Design is an iterative process, and learning from your projects along the way is valuable in a number of different ways. This section explores some practical insights into how you can learn from your public sector innovation projects and create evidence of their effect.
Understanding the impact of what you are doing can help you to showcase the results to others. If you are going to persuade the top levels of an organisation that something is worth doing, whether that’s allocating resources or moving a project on to implementation stage, you’ll need to have a strong understanding of the difference it could make – and any proof that you can share with them.
To make your evaluation as effective as possible, it should be thought about strategically right from the beginning and be planned into your project from the outset. What are your main aims? And how will you know whether you have achieved them? It’s also important to consider any budgetary impact, and how what you are proposing might compare with existing services in terms of immediate investment and long-term financial impact.
Once you have a good sense of the value you are seeking to achieve, think about which metrics are most suitable to measure it with. How you frame the challenge is directly related to how the success of any solutions should be measured. Despite often coming together at the end of a project, evaluation isn’t just an end-stage action – it should inform the project design from the start.
Measuring the impact of what you are doing is also a critical part of your own development. As you practice innovation and reflect on what worked well and what didn’t, honing processes as you go, you are taking on a ‘designerly’ mindset. Evaluating impact helps you to fully understand how you have (or haven’t) been successful in what you were trying to do. This in turn helps you to develop your practice, and you’ll go into future projects with a greater understanding.