Once a party starts the new ICT implementation process, it should conduct periodic assessments to make sure the project remains on track. Well-defined goals and clear timelines are important to this process. However, even after it achieves its goals, a party should continue to assess its projects to ensure that they are still useful and true to their original purposes. If the party did not start by setting a clear measurable goal, this assessment is more difficult.
The assessment process can vary depending on a project’s nature. However, some elements should remain constant. Prior to project completion, a party should assess its progress against the timeline it set during the planning phase. It might ask the following questions:
- Have all of the schedule’s intermediary tasks been completed to date?
- If not, why not?
- Are there adjustments that can be made to ensure that remaining tasks are completed on time?
- How have costs compared to those projected in the budget?
- Is the project on track for timely completion, or does the timeline require an update?
- Will the project require more time, resources or money to complete than initially planned?
- Does the project reach its target audience? If not, why not, and what part is missing? What can the party do to reach this audience?
The periodic assessment should not stop once the project is complete. If ICT tools help a party achieve its goals, then the party must also take the time to assess the details of their impact. For example, if a political party chooses to set up a Facebook page to provide an avenue for youth engagement, then the assessments should not stop once young voters are using the site. The party should continue to assess whether that engagement translates to offline action such as votes or increased party membership, and whether young voters are still engaging on that channel or have moved to another social media site. The party should also assess whether young men and young women are using the Facebook site equally, or if there is a gender gap in usage and why.
Assessments are much more effective when planned in advance. Forward planning allows a political party to consider the types of assessment questions it wants to ask and from whom it should gather feedback. Further, party operations can be chaotic, especially at election time or other busy moments in the party calendar. Advance planning of the assessment process makes it more likely that the party will have time and resources available for this important task when necessary.
Due to unknown variables, it is rarely possible to perfectly follow a project timeline or budget. However, having a clear goal, a planned route to achieving said goal and periodic assessments will help party staff stay on track as they work to incorporate new tech tools into their daily routine. While it may be easy to brush these steps off — as they require extra time and effort — they are critical in keeping party staff accountable for the work that needs to be accomplished in both the long and short term. Failure to go through the proper planning steps often results in projects taking longer than expected, going over budget or failing altogether.