Newsletter: Creating an Evaluation Scope of Work

Posted on October 1, 2015 by  in Newsletter - ()

Director of Research, The Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University

One of the most common requests we get at EvaluATE is for examples of independent contractor agreements and scope of work statements for external evaluators. First, let’s be clear about the difference between these two types of documents.

An independent contractor agreement is typically 90 percent boilerplate language required by your institution. Here at Western Michigan University, contracts are run through one of three offices (Business Services, Research and Sponsored Programs, Grants and Contracts, or Purchasing), depending on the type of contract and the nature of the work/service. We can’t tell you the name of the office at your institution, but there definitely is one and they probably have boilerplate contract forms that you will need to use.

A scope of work statement should be attached to and referenced by the independent contractor agreement (or other type of contract). But unlike the contract, it should not be written in legalese, but in plain language understandable to all parties involved. The key issues to cover in a scope of work statement include the following:

Evaluation questions (or objectives): Including information about the purpose of the evaluation is a good reminder to those involved about why the evaluation is being done. It may serve as a useful reference down the road if the evaluation starts to experience scope creep (or shrinkage).

Main tasks and deliverables (with timelines or deadlines): This information should make clear what services and products the evaluator will provide. Common examples include a detailed evaluation plan (what was included in your proposal probably doesn’t have enough detail), data collection instruments, reports, and presentations.

It’s critical to include timelines (generally when things will occur) and deadlines (when they must be finished) in this statement.

Conditions for payment: You most likely specified a dollar amount for the evaluation in your grant proposal, but you probably do not plan on paying that in a lump sum either at the beginning or end of the evaluation or even yearly. Specify in what increments payments should be made and what conditions must be met for payment. Rather than tying payment(s) to certain dates, consider making payment(s)contingent on the completion of certain tasks or deliverables.

Be sure to come to agreement on these terms in collaboration with your evaluator. This is an opportunity to launch your working relationship from a place of open communication and shared expectations.