Aside from evaluating the programming implemented by a network, it is important to assess how
effectively and efficiently the network functions. This self-assessment should be conducted regularly
to determine, for example, that the network has:
The right partners involved and they are fully engaged in its mission
Has a governing structure that is inclusive and answerable to its members
Has a committable plan for sustaining the network financially and otherwise into the future
In addition to process-oriented data collection on network effectiveness (for example, number of
services provided, number of trainings offered), most evaluations of networks will also involve
surveying or interviewing network members, clients, and/or partners on their perceptions of the
network. The questions asked will vary depending on the developmental stage of the network and what
aspects are being evaluated.
For networks that have just started or are at most a year into their development, evaluators will
likely be more concerned with process-oriented questions. Measuring network outcomes may be difficult
because of the short existence of the organization. Such process-oriented questions may include:
Partner mix: Are the right partners involved? Are there partners missing who might be
critical to the network's success?
Level of engagement: Are partners engaged in the mission/vision of the network and excited
by the network's potential?
Barriers/Challenges: What has prevented the network from accomplishing goals?
Early success: Where has the network seen initial success? What were the elements that led
to this success?
Governance: Has the network established a governance structure that is both collaborative
and receptive to different opinions?
Champion: Does the network has a “champion” (for example, a person or
organization that is
devoted to the continued functioning and sustainability of the network)?
For more mature networks that have sustained themselves for more than a few years, evaluators may
change their questions to reflect the changed nature of the network. In addition, evaluators may also
be able to measure short- and long-term outcomes associated with network's impacts on both the
populations they serve and on the participating organizations and employees. Questions at this stage
of development may include:
Organizational change: What has been the impact of the network on partner organizations?
Have partners changed their behavior because of the efforts of the network? How have organizational
relationships developed through the network affected the partnering organizations' operations?
Partner mix: Are the right partners still involved? Are there partners missing who might be
critical to the network's success?
Reach: Has the network been able to reach its intended target population?
Membership: Has the network membership expanded beyond its original group? How have these
new partners acclimated to involvement in the network?
Outcomes: What changes have the network seen or experienced since its inception (for
example, changes in policy, changes in the environment)?
Efficiency: Were outcomes achieved in a reasonable amount of time and at reasonable cost?
Resources to Learn More
Baldrige Performance Excellence Program
A customer-focused federal change agent that develops and disseminates self-evaluation criteria for
organizations to use, in order to improve performance. A number of networks have used the Baldrige
self-assessment process to make necessary changes in order to improve their performance.
Organization(s): National Institute of Standards and Technology
Guide to Evaluating
A downloadable guide to conducting collective impact evaluation with sample questionnaires, tools,
and measures. Includes a 90-minute webinar walking through the guide.
Information Technology Network Readiness Assessment
A self-assessment instrument designed for HIT networks to use in order to determine organizational
strengths and weaknesses.
Organization(s): National Rural Health Resource Center
Knowledge Sharing and Evaluating Communities
A 6-minute video that gives an overview of how to approach developing an evaluation plan and how to
identify what can be measured.
Organization(s): KM Impact
Tools and Strategies for Managing Health
Networks – Network Evaluation
A series of presentations from representatives from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy that go
over suggested strategies for networks to adopt for quality improvement
Organization(s): National Collaborative of Health Networks
Evaluate Your Coalition
A series of tools to measure evaluation of networks and coalitions at various stages of
Author(s): Topaloff, A., Enderton, A., & Bregendahl, C.
Organization(s): Iowa State University Extension and Outreach