In association with

  • West of England Academic Health Science Network

Identify & Understand

Having a good understanding of your planned service will improve your evaluation.


The first steps to successfully planning your evaluation are to:

  1. Identify who your key stakeholders are and involve them in your evaluation
  2. Understand the evidence base for the planned service
  3. Understand how and what your service plans to achieve and why

Identify your key stakeholders

We recommend, where possible, to try and involve representatives from your key stakeholder groups to help you to design, deliver and disseminate your evaluation and the associated findings.

Engaging the right stakeholders at the beginning of the evaluation planning process helps elicit buy-in and can help to ensure your evaluation is successful.  It creates an opportunity to identify additional resources and people with relevant skills, knowledge, insight and expertise including experts in evaluation.  For tools to support, please see the toolbox below.

Understand the Evidence base

It is important to consider what evidence is available to inform your planning and decision making in terms of the service, as well as the evaluation.

You will be familiar with using a broad range of evidence from multiple sources including needs assessments, public health and performance data, evidence from research and best practice as well as expertise and local learning from evaluation, stakeholder feedback and consultations.  This evidence can be used to inform your service and evaluation design.  For help accessing and applying evidence from research, evaluation and the grey literature check out our Evidence Works toolkit and use the toolbox below.

Understand your service

Understanding your service in terms of the need the service is trying to address, activities the service plans to undertake and the changes (outcomes and impact) it is trying to achieve will help you to plan your evaluation.

Engage your stakeholders and use your evidence review to help to explore how the planned service will work.  Use the evidence you have collected to inform your assumptions around how planned activities will lead to desired outcomes.  Take into account the context within which you service is operating in.  Developing a “Theory of change” or a “logic model” are useful tools to help you to engage your stakeholders, communicate your plans and focus your evaluation.  See the toolbox below for some suggested tools.



The following tools are either internal resources developed by the BNSSG Research and Evidence Team or useful external resources.

BNSSG Research and Evidence Team

BNSSG Research and Evidence Team Identify and understand tools

Identifying your stakeholders
West of England AHSN communication and stakeholder engagement

Involving your stakeholders
Public Involvement and Impact Assessment Framework PiiAF to help you plan and evaluate public involvement.

Guidelines for Patient and Public Involvement in Evaluation: Building and Sustaining a Culture of Involvement in Evaluation. These guidelines aim to support anyone working in evaluation to embed patient and public involvement (PPI) into their evaluation activities and to ensure that public contributors really feel part of the evaluation team.

Understanding the evidence base
Visit our Evidence Works toolkit

Understanding your service

The following are useful guides to logic modelling and developing your theory of change

Please note we are not responsible for the content of external sites and are for guidance only.

All evaluations should be underpinned by a theory of change or some other description of the intended outcomes


Local experts

Don’t forget to involve your local experts within your own or partner organisations to help you with these steps, including:

Top Tip

Involve and engage all key stakeholders in the prioritisation, planning, delivery and dissemination of the evaluation. This helps elicit buy-in and can help ensure your evaluation is successful.

Case study: GP Alcohol Liaison Nurse Pilot

GP Alcohol Liaison Nurse Pilot

This case study is the evaluation of a pilot service for a GP Alcohol Liaison  Nurse.    The service was evaluated through its second year, and the evaluation findings were used to inform whether the service was to be fully commissioned following completion of the pilot phase.

See full case study