The Project Management Cycle’s Sixth Dimension



By Kenneth F. Smith

Honolulu, Hawaii



This is a discussion about Project Evaluation tools and techniques.   The author advocates that project managers be familiar with the purpose, scope, tools & techniques of evaluation; and that the topic of Evaluation be included in future editions of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)®.



The Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide® of the Project Management Institute® identifies five “Process Groups” in the Project Management Cycle:  Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring & Control, and Closing.  I contend Evaluation is intrinsically a Sixth Process Group.

Monitoring & Control focuses on the project’s status during Execution, and what – if any — actions the project manager can undertake to rectify variances from its pre-planned time, cost &/or technical scope, in order to deliver the project’s planned ‘outputs;’ hopefully on schedule and on budget.  However, during the latter stage of Execution — as well as at, and after, Closeout – a separate and distinct Evaluation Process emerges to

1) validate the extent to which the project’s strategic and/or policy objectives are likely to be — or have already been — achieved,

2) feedback the findings to higher level managers and policy makers; as well as

3) recommend what else could be done to heighten the prospect for a successful outcome; &/or address any problems already encountered.

Evaluation is neither the function nor responsibility of project managers.  Nevertheless, whatever is learned from the evaluation, the project manager will ultimately be held accountable for subsequent shortfalls by the target clients — if not the sponsors!  Therefore, it is in the project manager’s direct interest to include sufficient resources during planning to achieve their project’s objectives beyond its immediate ‘deliverables;’ as well as provide for subsequent evaluations.  Thus, even though not directly involved in evaluation, Project Managers should be familiar with the unique processes, tools and techniques of evaluators.

Essentially, evaluation attempts to measure and compare changes (or differences) resulting from a project intervention; hopefully an improvement over the baseline situation.  But comparative analysis presupposes the existence of baseline data.  Otherwise, less desirable ‘work-around’ approaches must be undertaken during evaluation.  Moreover, systematic approaches to collect data for evaluation should be identified for subsequent processing, analysis and assessment.

While commercial sector project initiatives may be directed at:

  • Increased Profit
  • Greater Market Sector Penetration
  • Expand Outreach of Clientele
  • Customer Loyalty, or
  • In-house sustainability of operations

governmental social & economic development projects are intended to foster or further one or more of the following:

  • ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITYIncome Generation / Poverty Alleviation
  • SOCIAL – Better “Quality of Life” in terms of Health & Education, &/or prioritizing support for Women & Children
  • INSTITUTIONAL Capacity, Capability & Sustainability of Governance
  • GROWTH & DEVELOPMENTReplicability /Scaleup of Service Delivery
  • ENVIRONMENTALProtection of Natural Resources/Anti-Pollution
  • PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION Equity in Service Provision & Delivery

The Logical Framework (logframe) ­– essentially a ‘Hierarchy of Objectives’ — also known in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as the Design & Monitoring Framework (DMF) is the “Best Practicetechnique used by the international multi-lateral and bi-lateral donor development agencies to relate deliverables to the strategic objectives of their projects, as well as identifying and specifying baseline and target indicators and metrics.


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How to cite this article: Smith, K. F. (2018). EVALUATION: The Project Management Cycle’s Sixth Dimension, PM World Journal, Volume VII, Issue X – October. Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/pmwj75-Oct2018-Smith-Evaluation-the-project-management-cycle-sixth-dimension-commentary.pdf


About the Author

Dr. Kenneth Smith

Honolulu, Hawaii




Dr. Kenneth F. Smith has been a project management consultant for ADB, the World Bank, and USAID for decades. He earned his DPA (Doctor of Public Administration) from the George Mason University (GMU) in Virginia and his MS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology/MIT (Systems Analysis Fellow, Center for Advanced Engineering Study). A long-time member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and IPMA-USA, Dr. Smith is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) and a member of the PMI®-Honolulu Chapter.

Dr. Ken Smith can be contacted at [email protected]