Coutts J&R

Evaluation is the foundation of strong decision making

Welcome to Coutts J&R — one of Australia’s leading evaluation companies. We have the experience and networks to meet your monitoring, evaluation and reporting needs.

Coutts J&R provides you with industry leading expertise and tools to collect, interpret and effectively use information to make the best decisions for your project and program. Our expertise is in establishing evaluation frameworks, planning and undertaking monitoring and evaluation (or mentoring your staff as they undertake the process) and measuring and reporting on impact. Our challenge is to make sure that you have the information you need to make the most informed decisions and meet your reporting requirements.

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+61 (0)7 4630 1297
0438 361 153
PO Box 2681, Toowoomba Queensland 4350

Coutts J&R's Blog

Posted by Amy Samson

Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you would know about the food tampering crisis that recently engulfed the Queensland strawberry industry (in particular) and seen other industries affected as well. This has been, and is still, a crisis situation until it is resolved, and the perpetrator/s are discovered.

From an evaluation perspective, going through a crisis, by its very nature, reveals a whole lot of key learnings that can be taken forward and applied at all levels of the organisation/industry. So how do we capture these and use them moving forward

Alan Williams (2011) proposed a framework that can be applied to help assess crisis management initiatives and is intended to help better understand the difficulties and complexities of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ in crisis management. He recognises that there are shades of grey along the spectrum between what could be considered a successful outcome or a failure and offers a systematic approach in understanding and evaluating crisis episodes.

The crisis management success/failure spectrum.

His framework is based around three dimensions of crisis management – processes, decisions and policy. Williams then provides criteria around what could be considered a success/failure in each of these as well as the types of evidence that could be considered to assess the outcomes.

This approach makes a lot of sense and I would think that the ideas of what a successful outcome or failure looks like (and their key indicators) in an organisation / industry should be workshopped through as part of the crisis management planning phase. And then revisited as a part of the evaluation process.

I’m a strong believer in planning your evaluation from the start including your data collection processes. So as you are developing your crisis management plan, build in your crisis evaluation plan. Of course it depends on the nature and type of issue you are dealing with, but if you’ve thought through different scenarios, you’ll have a head start on collecting useful information that you can learn from.

Here then are the key evaluation steps that could be taken when developing a crisis management plan:

  1. Map out data collection opportunities and how/when to implement around planned response activities (e.g. media monitoring and analysis, social media monitoring and analysis, website analytics, online polls, interviews, structured observation, impact on sales, records and details of related incoming calls/emails, records of actions taken)
  2. Develop key evaluation questions around identified crisis scenarios and planned approaches (e.g. process related, decisions made, policies enacted/changed/impacted)
  3. Workshop your success and failure criteria. These will be different for individual situations.
  4. Develop post crisis debrief process – e.g. debrief workshop with key players / industry/organisation/stakeholder; broader survey (telephone or online) of relevant stakeholders (if relevant) on perception of crisis handling and impacts; case study based report (to be widely shared) of what happened, how it was handled and what has been learned; ongoing media/social media analysis of public sentiment / attitudes / key message delivery etc.
  5. Review and update crisis management plan

The above should also consider the organic response to the issue, that is, the broader public response as a result of influencers outside of your immediate control. Social media (and traditional media) is a major driver of this and can often sway public mood one way or the other (often within the space of an hour) simply on the trending of a hashtag.
In the strawberry industry’s case, social media (and the traditional media – particularly abc radio) really influenced public sentiment and actions in a positive way, seemingly without too much influence from the strawberry industry itself. Things don’t always work out this well, but that’s another article more about social media strategies for crisis management. Google should give you plenty of good reading around this.

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Current Projects

Qld Farmers’ Federation (QFF) has contracted Coutts J&R to undertake an independent evaluation of the Reef Alliance Project (RAP). The project is an initiative of the Reef Alliance to advance farming beyond industry best management practice (BMP) and fast-track the implementation of innovative practices – primarily through an extension-based approach, combined with access to specialised technical training, and in some cases, financial support for infrastructure, farm improvements or machinery where this is indispensable.

DAF has successfully secured external funding from Australian Wool Innovation Limited (AWI) to conduct follow-on extension activities under phase 4 of the Leading Sheep program – project ‘Leading Sheep 2018-21’. Coutts J&R have been contracted to: review and update evaluation templates with input from Leading Sheep team; develop the Leading Sheep evaluation plan 2018-2021 with input from Leading Sheep team; and provide advice on how to best meet contracted project targets.

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News Updates

In our almost two decades of working in evaluation, we have only ever seen an increasing need for organisations / programs / projects to be able to prove impact and validate funding. More than ever, the old adage ‘knowledge is power’ rings true, and it is vital to have the right information to make the right decisions when looking to the future.

This is why Coutts J&R is delighted to announce that we are strengthening our Benefit Cost and Social Impact analysis services. Our new Affiliate, Patrick Ferron (Canadian CPA, CA), provides an opportunity for current and future clients to benefit from his more than 16 years of international experience across Publicly Traded Companies, NGO’s and others.

Patrick is a business and finance professional who has worked with us on Benefit Cost studies for a number of projects over the years (e.g. RR&D for Profit Project: MIRprofit: Integrating very large genomic and milk mid infrared data to improve profitability of dairy cows – Dairy Australia). He has now launched his own consultancy in Queensland – Acadian Analysis Services – which is to our and your advantage.

A key factor in his success, and a valuable skill, is his ability to collaborate across cultures (through working in Mongolia, with an organisation supporting aboriginal groups in the NT and with Inuit and First Nation communities in Canada) and all organisational staff levels (from floor staff to C-suite). Patrick has also completed UQ’s Social Cost-Benefit Analysis course (November 2018) and in recent years focused on the analysis of business processes including needs assessment / fit for purpose analysis.

If you have any queries about this or any other of our services, please visit our services page or contact


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