Commissioning managers of evaluation processes always reflect on what is needed and what is appropriate in terms of: internal / external evaluation, mid-term or final evaluation, qualitative vs quantitative or mixed method evaluation, plus some other dimension.
One of the areas that needs consideration is how detailed the Terms of Reference really should be. With more in-house M&E specialists within organisations ToRs tend to be written after a process of planning and conceptualising the evaluation thoroughly. In itself this this not bad at all. Just one thought here: who will or will not be attracted to an already laid out and detailed evaluation process and methodology? Evaluators with a lot of experience will prefer work where they can, to some extent, use their own expertise and creativity and add value that way. This becomes particularly pertinent if the potential consultants don’t quite agree with the approaches, methods, time frames or priorities outlined in the ToR and may result in ruling themselves out.
We recently found ourselves facing a decision like this so we thought it might be worth sharing.