David Basarab Posted by David Basarab.

Dave is the founder of Dave Basarab Consulting, V.A.L.E. Consulting, LLC and co-founder of The Learning Burst Academy. He is also the author of The Training Evaluation Process and Predictive Evaluation.


Few evaluations begin with absolute certainty. If we had to wait for absolute certainty, most evaluations would never get off the ground. As evaluations are planned and executed, some facts and issues are known, others must be estimated. Estimation is an art, with many fine points to finesse between certainty and wishful thinking. You can’t just hope you have the resources you need to do the evaluation, and you can’t wait until every resource is available to begin. You have to manage and mitigate using informed assumptions.

Assumptions fill in the gaps between known proven facts and total guesswork.  Each assumption is an “educated guess”, a likely condition, circumstance or event, presumed known and true in the absence of absolute certainty.  Once identified, these assumptions and shape our evaluation plan.

Consider this example:

  • A defined budget is a fact.  i.e.  $10,000 has been allocated to complete a given evaluation.
  • The belief that the budget is sufficient to complete the project on time and as required is an assumption.  This assumption should not be a guess.  It should be the result of a planned, verified budget estimate.

From initiation to closure, assumptions set the stage for evaluation planning and execution.  As the evaluation is planned, assumptions are used to define and shape tasks, schedules, resource assignments and budget allocations.  As such, each is used to manage an otherwise uncertain future, laying out a roadmap for how the evaluation will proceed.

So assume carefully…but document those assumptions as backup.

Answer this question: What assumptions have already been made about the evaluation?

What assumptions have you made regarding a training evaluation?  I would enjoy hearing your thoughts.