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Measurement refers to the process of identifying the extent, magnitude, quantity, competence and capacity of an item. In their book Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace, Measurement and Evaluation, Moseley and Dessinger refer to measurement as identification of what is important to the organization such as outputs or results through application of relevant measuring tools to collect data on performance (Moseley & Dessinger, 2009). Morrow, Jackson and Mood simply puts it as the act of assessing performance (Morrow, Jackson and Mood, 2010).
On the other hand, evaluation refers to the process of ascertaining the value, merit or worth of an object. According to Harrington (2008), it entails use of measurement and design techniques to establish the impact and worth of an undertaking. Evaluation usually dependents on data and information obtained from measurement. Through evaluation, an organization can estimate the returns on investments for profit maximization purposes.
According Sharma, the underlying principle for measurement and evaluation is determined by the need for performance management. This process involves identification of performance areas that require changes or improvements (Sharma, 2006). A decision for making these changes is based on the feedback got from measuring, evaluating and monitoring the performance over a given period of time at repeated intervals. Usually, these changes are guided by the goals of the organization. According to the author, measurement and evaluation are continuous processes that have to be carried periodically throughout the life of the business.
Type of Measurement and Evaluations
In performance measurement, calibration is the process of ascertaining the relations between a measuring device and the unit of measurement chosen. It determines and verifies whether the tools applied in measurements are correctly used (McNamara, Erlandson & McNamara, 1999). Automatic measurement is a type of measurement based on the intrinsic characteristic of the item. Automatic measurement often used in measuring behavior. Standard measurement is where there are pre-established qualities, aspect or determinants that the phenomenon in question should meet whereas universal measurement is non-specific and can be applied in any scenario. On the other hand, self-monitoring measurement is based on individual performance of the person. Performance evaluation refers to is systematic assessments done to determine how well a program is working. It typically examines the achievements of the program in the context of other aspect of the program.
The outcome of evaluation determines the extent to which the organization achieves it s intended goals. Impact evaluation assesses the net effect of the interventions of the organization by comparing the estimates of actual performance with probabilistic performance. Cost-benefit analysis is evaluation technique that involves comparing returns against costs associated with producing outputs. It determines the cost of meeting any single goal as compared to other possible alternatives. Evaluation can also be categorized as formative or summative.
Uses of Measurement and Evaluation
In most cases, measurements and evaluation are used by the organization for various reasons. First, they are used in functional analysis. Functional analysis is determination of the effect that a given variable may impact on performance, for instance, the effect of providing incentives to workers on their overall output. Secondly, measurements and evaluations provide standard procedures for organizational undertakings based on previous research data that is known to be effective.
Measurements provide feedback to managers, employees and other stakeholders of the organization thus enables them to adjust their behaviors and their efforts to improve (Rani, 2010). It also helps in placement and allocation of resources in accordance with respective utilities and availability. It enhances diagnosis and identification of weaknesses or deficiencies of the organization information obtained from measurements and evaluation can be used in prediction and forecasting of future trends in the business arena (Rani, 2010). It acts as a motivator since workforce will be challenged and stimulated to meet set objectives. Finally, it assists in evaluation of overall performance of the organization.
Roles of Measurement
Measurement serves three major purposes, that is, validation, accountability and decision making. Validation refers to the process of determining the authenticity or certification of something. It involves substantiating, approving and verifying whether or not the assumptions and interventions are applied in performance improvement are true and worthy. Whereas accountability calls for responsible actions and detailed explanation behind the courses of actions, decision making uses measurement information based on feedback from research for either organizational or professional decision making (McDavid & Hawthorn, 2006). This aspect of measurement makes it a vital tool for all organizations. Organization can, therefore, apply measurement and evaluation techniques to enable them achieve their target goals and objectives.
In conclusion, the organizational results and work outputs shall remain to be the key determinant of the success and effectiveness of measurement and evaluation (McNamara, Erlandson & McNamara, 2004). An organization should also apply other techniques such as strategic and tactical planning in order to best achieve its goals and objectives. The procedures and methods of measurements and evaluation should be clearly stated and well described to allow for easy replication and application in the business operation by others.