Audit and Evaluation are means to assess a process, product or metrics with an aim to check their conformance to the set or expected standards. Their difference lies in the purpose behind initiation and the methodology that is followed to conduct either an Audit or an evaluation.
An audit is typically a systematic and methodical process of checking or assessing the processes, the products and the overall working of the organization. It could be a stand-alone activity undertaken by the organization to check the efficacy of the followed practices and means of identifying pockets of improvement. An audit also helps an organization isolate the areas of risk and undertake measures to eliminate them.
There are several means of classifying an Audit. Primarily a Quality audit pertains to the assessment of the prevalent systems and processes within the organization and testing or checking whether the followed processes are capable or efficient enough to attain the organization’s goals and objectives. The primary aim here is to improve the performance of an organization and help in realizing its goals. The other kind of audit is an integrated audit which refers to the audit of listed or publicly traded companies which is conducted according to the guidelines laid down by Public Accounting Company Oversight Board. This kind of audit not only scrutinizes the financial reporting but also throws a light on the internal controls that lie within an organization.
In the most basic form, an audit could be an Internal Audit or an External Audit. An audit that is initiated within the organization, where the findings and observations are reported to the senior management of the organization, is typically known as an internal audit. An external audit is one where the observations and findings are shared with the governing body of the company and the audit is conducted by an external organization.
The other kinds of audits are: Personal Audits, Statutory Audits, Non Statutory Audits, Social Audits and Performance Audits.
The methodology by which an audit is conducted is well defined and segregated in definite steps. Depending upon the area of audit, it commences generally with the evaluation and the measurement phase. The records or facts which are collected on this phase is verified in the next phase which is the evaluation and analysis phase. Once all the collected records and data points have been tallied with physical samples and further scrutinized, observations or findings are reported.
Evaluation on the other hand is an attempt by the organization to understand the followed processes and practices in order to identify the areas of improvement and consequently undertake developmental activities.
Basis the stage of a particular process in which it is connected, an evaluation could be classified. If the evaluation is conducted in the middle of a process to access the quality of execution, efficacy of the processes followed, then it could be classified as a formative evaluation. The inputs for such an evaluation can be used to tweak the processes to improve the quality. However if an evaluation is carried out at the end stage of a process to gauge the consequence or the final product, then it is called a summative evaluation.
The methodology for conducting an evaluation consists an amalgamation of scientific, qualitative and quantitative research and analysis.
While the scientific models for conducting an evaluation lay emphasis on the accuracy and neutrality of the findings and recorded observations a management or participant oriented model might emphasis more on the the set management practices and lean towards the participants or users.
Thus Evaluation as a technique focuses on the theme â€œlearning by doingâ€.