Making monitoring and evaluation simple

Everyone Counts: Creating data standards to link citizen-generated data

Posted by Rob Worthington on Aug 15, 2016 8:56:34 AM

This blog post follows up on a previous post about Everyone Counts, a new initiative founded by World VisionCARE International and Kwantu.  The initiative aims to give marginalised citizens a voice in relation to their satisfaction with public services.  You can read the previous post here.

I ended the last post posing three key technical challenges that Everyone Counts need to overcome.  These are:

Comparability: how can we standardise and compare data coming from different organisations, while still allowing for contextual variations?

Quality of data: how can we ensure that data are of high quality and have enough credibility to be taken seriously?

Getting to scale: how can we take data from the community level up to the national level, aggregating data to build the bigger picture?

This post will share thinking on how we aim to tackle these challenges.

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Topics: mobile data collection, community scorecards, social accountability, Data driven decisions, Data standards

Everyone Counts: Using Citizen-generated data to monitor progress against the SDGs

Posted by Rob Worthington on Aug 4, 2016 10:00:00 PM

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development (IEAG) recently released it's report - A World That Counts: Mobilising The Data Revolution for Sustainable Development.

The report highlights two big global challenges for the current state of development data:

  • The challenge of invisibility (gaps in what we know from data, and when we find out)
  • The challenge of inequality (gaps between those who with and without information, and what they need to know make their own decisions)

As the global community grapples with these challenges in the context of monitoring the SDGS, I propose a third challenge to consider:

  • The challenge to include the voices of citizens - particularly those often excluded or left behind - in a meaningful way

I’d like to introduce you to a new partnership that we’ve established to try and tackle this third challenge.

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Topics: community scorecards, social accountability, Data standards

Towards a New Approach to Collecting, Sharing and Using Data in Networks

Posted by Rob Worthington on Feb 25, 2016 10:26:00 AM

Models of implementation continue to evolve for many NGOs.  One big trend that particularly interests me is the shift from direct implementation of projects and programmes by international NGOs (INGOs) towards working with partners to support and build their capacity.  Networks that represent particular groups are often a key part of this model.  They may represent groups like young people, older people or those living with or affected by HIV.  As structures they can provide legitimacy for participatory monitoring and joint advocacy efforts.

The shift from direct implementation towards technical assistance and capacity building support has implications for resource mobilisation, advocacy, programme innovation and of course monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

I’ll talk first of M&E and come back to the other points later.

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Topics: Form Hub, Networks, Data standards, Data Hub

How to use Scanbot to collect and organise field data

Posted by Rob Worthington on Feb 9, 2016 7:43:13 AM

This post is a break from my current series looking at tools to visualise data.  Instead I'll write about a tool that you may find useful to collect and organise data from the field.

If you're working at a larger scale across multiple sites then it's really important to collect your data in a more structured and standardised way.  If you don't the work involved in aggregating and analysing it is very significant.  This is an area that we specialise in helping with.

However, if your work is at a smaller scale (say across a handful of sites) then simpler tools may be better for you.  In this post I’ll write about Scanbot, a free app for Android and iOS that can help you to collect and organise field data.

I’ve chosen to cover Scanbot as I’ve used it extensively for a while now.  However, there are of course many alternatives that you can try if you prefer.  Some of these are PDFpen Scan+Scanner Pro and Evernote.

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Topics: mobile data collection, android, iOS

An organic approach to developing data standards

Posted by Rob Worthington on Jan 15, 2016 10:00:00 AM

This is the first in a series of blog posts about our work on data standards.  The intention is to present our work and thinking to a wider audience, learn from you about other work that may connect to this and explore new contexts and partnerships in which we can test these ideas.

Previous posts have covered work we’ve done implementing systems to help manage and monitor development programmes.  Since we’ve had the fortune to work on a number of related programmes (in the areas of social accountability and social protection), we’ve also been able to use this work to explore what it means to develop standards for data that similar programmes collect about activities, outputs and indicators.

Image courtesy of

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Topics: standardisation, Data standards

How to use motion charts to analyse your M&E data

Posted by Rob Worthington on Nov 10, 2015 10:00:00 AM

This is part of series of posts looking at ways of visualising your data.  In previous posts I've focused on ways of visualising data that help to understand patterns in data that represent one period of time.  This post looks instead at how you can use visualisation to help understand patterns in your data over several periods of time.

I'll be looking at tool called Motion Charts that was first pioneered by Dr. Hans Rosling and popularised in his famous Ted talk.  What's nice about this tool is the ability to analyse your data across four different dimensions over time.  This is a great way to see patterns that you may not have noticed before.

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Topics: Visualisation, Data analysis, data visualisation

Is an 'off-the-shelf' M&E app possible?

Posted by Rob Worthington on Oct 26, 2015 9:28:11 AM

Standardisation versus customisation.  This is one of the key tensions that technologists must balance when developing new technology.  Where should the balance lie for M&E technology?  What does this mean in practical terms?

These are some of the questions addressed in a short research paper that I presented at the South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association (SAMEA) conference earlier this month.  Read on to see my presentation and download the paper.

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Topics: community scorecards, standardisation

Which is best for M&E: Excel, Google or OpenOffice?

Posted by Rob Worthington on Oct 13, 2015 2:48:09 PM

For many small organisations a spreadsheet is the core of their monitoring and evaluation system.  If you're working on smaller scales or with less standardised monitoring approaches, spreadsheets are a great option.  They are both flexible and powerful.

However, they also have their limitations, particularly when it comes to managing data quality and disaggregating data.  Take a look at my earlier post for some of the pros and cons of using spreadsheets for your M&E system.

But which spreadsheet should you use?  More specifically, which is best for M&E: Excel, Google or OpenOffice?  In this post I evaluate these three options in relation to areas that are important for M&E.  Read on to see how each rates and who the winner is.

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Topics: Excel, open office

How to use Power View to visualise your M&E data in Excel

Posted by Rob Worthington on Oct 2, 2015 9:23:23 AM

This blog post looks at how to use Power View to visualise your M&E data in Excel.  Power View is a powerful interactive data exploration and visualisation tool that is built into Excel 2013.

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Topics: Visualisation, Excel, data visualisation

Technology for Visualising Monitoring and Evaluation Data

Posted by Rob Worthington on Sep 29, 2015 10:26:20 AM

Which would you prefer to look at?  A never-ending list of numbers or an interactive chart that shows the same data visually?  

Presenting data visually can help you quickly see patterns and predict trends.  It can also be a powerful way to tell a story with your data.

Are you interested in using technology for visualising monitoring and evaluation data but not sure where to start?

This slideshow looks at using technology for visualising monitoring and evaluation data.  It looks at where to start and suggests appropriate technology for different levels of ability.

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