Art of the Possible: Technology and Tools for Improved Monitoring and Evaluation
As technology becomes more ubiquitous, many implementers struggle to effectively incorporate new technologies into the M&E efforts. In this series of articles, Chris Wood answers the most common questions that arise in technology for M&E. An innovator with more than 30 years of experience across all sectors, Chris brings corporate best practices to non-profits in the design and implementation of M&E systems, with particular focus on using the latest technology solutions.
These articles will focus on how you can design your M&E system to take full advantage of technology. By understanding what is available, how it works, and how you can use it, we will walk through the “Art of the Possible”. Monitoring and evaluation can be a very boring and distracting topic within most organizations, but it is an essential part of demonstrating that you are doing the right thing. Collecting data about what you do allows you to show others how much you do. After analyzing that data you can prove that your actions are worthwhile and do create a difference. M&E can be very technical, tough to get started and can be seen as getting in the way of what we do - until you see the results and can proudly show others the evidence of your work.
All too often M&E systems attempt to use technology because someone has said that “It would be great if we could ..... Now go and make it work”. This is rarely successful as it requires the technology to be back-fitted into an existing system which almost always causes more problems than it solves.
How many times have you wanted to, or been asked to;
- Use mobile phones to collect data in the field
- Use a web-survey because it is free
- Just use Excel because we already have that installed
- Create a report by Thursday with the latest results
- Design a poster about our project for the big event
These articles will help you bring a logical approach to the hype surrounding some of the technologies, and to be able to make informed decisions on which way to go.
The following articles will be published on a weekly basis, so make sure you check back in for the latest discussions:
- Design thinking - how to go about designing your M&E system so that it can be effectively implemented through technology.
- Mobile data collection - ways in which mobile devices can be used to collect data in the field
- Web based surveys - online surveying looks easy, but where are the pitfalls?
- Databases - collecting masses of data can quickly overload your systems. What solutions best suit your organization?
- Use your results - having collected the data and analyzed it fully, what do you do with the results?
- Visual analysis - a picture paints a thousand words - learn how to make compelling visuals from your data
- Technology decisions - concluding article to bring together the advantages and challenges of your options.