As you develop detailed implementation plans, it is important to create opportunities to ‘pretest’ or pilot these plans, including everything from the content and staffing to scheduling and logistics. Often, we design programmes ‘on paper’—meaning we only identify challenges to implementation when implementation is already underway. At that point, it may be more difficult, or impossible, to adjust or change course.
Pretesting involves trying out and getting feedback on specific components of a programme, curriculum, or strategy before they are piloted together. For example, you can pretest key messages, illustrations, or participatory exercises designed as part of a workshop or curriculum. A lot can be learned through simple cycles of observation, reflection, and revision.
Piloting typically means implementing the programme as planned from start to finish (on a small scale or abbreviated timeline) while intensively collecting feedback. If possible, the programme is then revised and retested. This process allows you to make the necessary changes without incurring additional costs or delays, and it reveals opportunities to improve or strengthen your programme.
This page includes useful resources on pretesting and piloting, as well as examples of what can be learned from implementing these vital steps.