Evaluating the Evaluator: Strategies and Tools to Measure Your Firm’s Performance from the Inside Out

Session Number: 1200
Track: Independent Consulting
Session Type: Panel
Tags: Business management, independent consulting
Session Chair: Corey Newhouse [Founder and Principal - Public Profit]
Presenter 1: Nishi Moonka [Managing Director - Resource Development Associates]
Presenter 2: Jana Sharp [Sharp Insight, LLC]
Presenter 3: Corey Newhouse [Founder and Principal - Public Profit]
Time: Oct 27, 2016 (04:45 PM - 06:15 PM)
Room: Atrium Ballroom C

Abstract 1 Title: Talent Acquisition and Retention
Presentation Abstract 1:

This theme will address common challenges to firm’s talent management: staff recruitment, management and retention.

Staff turnover can hurt a firm’s bottom line. Hiring the right people from the start is one of the best ways to reduce turnover. To do this, owner-evaluators need to interview and vet candidates carefully for the right skills and company cultural fit.

Once hired, effective management is critical to retaining staff, sustaining high levels of performance and building an organization. Managers are the critical link to building staff engagement, which is associated with increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction ratings and improved fiscal outcomes.

Owner-evaluators can assess retention by considering the turnover rate, engagement surveys, annual market rate compensation and benefit package analysis, trends in the marketplace, staff feedback and the work environment.

Abstract 2 Title: Measuring Benefits to Clients
Presentation Abstract 2:

This theme will address three opportunities for assessing the value that evaluation firms can provide to their clients: project success, maximized impact, trusted partnerships.

One clear way to determine benefit to clients is to measure against their own definition of success. Therefore, defining “success” at the start of each engagement is an essential step in helping the owner-evaluators create shared measures that are relevant and valuable to each client.

Owner-evaluators must be cognizant of the minimum threshold for success (e.g. grant compliance, contract fulfillment), but also be able to evaluate the extent to which their firm maximized impact, when and where feasible. Such opportunities might include developing system-wide tools/processes, expanding reach, and forming strategic partnerships.

Organizations have many choices when it comes to selecting evaluation partners. Building and maintaining trusted relationships is an essential component in providing quality consulting services. Owner-evaluators can assess partnership value in systematic and meaningful ways.

Abstract 3 Title: Financial Stability and Sustainability: Pricing and Forecasting
Presentation Abstract 3:

This theme will address common challenges to firm’s financial stability: pricing, financial forecasts and deal flow.

Accurate project pricing is essential for the owner-evaluator to assure the firm’s long term health. To price accurately, owner-evaluators need a realistic estimate of the time needed to complete the engagement, rates that account for costs and client’s ability to pay, and accurate estimates of direct costs.

Financial forecasting enables owner-evaluators to better estimate their staffing needs and to set goals for new revenue. Common rules of thumb for financial forecasting offer a helpful gut-check, including revenue per staff person, fully loaded salary costs and organizational overhead.

Owner-evaluators can estimate the value of their prospective projects using a simple net present value formula. When coupled with a robust financial forecast, the estimated value of the firm’s deal flow offers the owner-evaluator a more specific target for new revenue.

Audience Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Session Abstract: 

Owner-evaluators must be balance both the practice- and business-side of their work, each of which requires a unique set of skills, strategies and tools. Few owner-evaluators have training in the business side of the work, leaving them on their own to sift through a myriad of management books, online tools, and training sessions. All too often, owner-evaluators build their business management skills based on whatever is most pressing at the time.


This panel presentation will offer practical advice and tools-to-use aligned with three core activities for the owner-evaluator:

  • Recruiting, managing and retaining talent.

  • Measuring the firm’s benefit to clients.

  • Assuring financial stability and sustainability.

The panelists manage evaluation firms at three distinct stages, offering participants a variety of perspectives aligned with their own needs. Session participants will receive a list of panelists’ preferred resources and strategies, offering take-it-back resources for participants to apply to their own practice.