Map produced with QGIS 2.4
Valid and reliable data while saving resources
Project management information systems: We employ a range of native and web-based project management tools to ease communication, planning and management of actions involving team members in various locations/countries. These tools help our clients to save resources while also helping us to implement our contracts transparently and effectively.
Mobile applications: With extended battery duration, external batteries and solar chargers, smartphones and tablets have become great tools for field data collection. Most of them can capture GPS coordinates, take photos, record audio and video. All that data can be integrated into monitoring tools and stored in a cloud database with just one click. Open Data Kit (ODK), for example, allows us to deliver such information also in areas without electricity and internet access. This short video will introduce you about how ODK works. This other video documents an ODK deployment experience in Uganda, Africa.
Web-forms: Such web-apps (short for “application”) use a browser to record and queue responses to a questionnaire until you can connect to the internet. This application can be customised to be used in other types of data collection (e.g. household surveys, activity monitoring reports and even for budget monitoring). A web-form for a project self-assessment, for example, can help involving staff based in various countries. Such a form can be complemented by data collection methods such as workshops, face-to-face interviews and focus-group discussions to further explore and triangulate results.
Data analysis applications: Making sense of complex qualitative and quantitative data has become increasingly accessible through free and open-source data computing software such as RStudio as well as geographic information systems such as QGIS. Some of them also allow us to build customised tools, which make possible to automatically generate plots, tables, maps and statistics that can simplify M&E-data analysis and reporting.
Some advantages of combining customised internet, mobile and computer applications in the monitoring system of your project or programme are:
On-going monitoring tools can be created for neatly storing information on-line about your project’s activities (e.g.: number of events or trainings, as well as participants including sex and age, location, photos) throughout the implementation.
Faster report-writing, less paperwork as well as lower risk of error while entering data from questionnaires into computer spreadsheets. The production of plots, tables, maps and statistics can be programmed to happen automatically. The analysis can also be easily reproduced so as to test for mistakes and help the preparation of future reports.
Geographic-information systems (GIS) can be easily integrated for mapping and performing spatial analysis of your activities, outputs and outcomes. Analytical maps can be very effective communication tools, not only with donors, but also with local stakeholders and the general public.
You will be able to monitor data collection as it goes on from anywhere, through the internet. At any time, interested parties can access the data on-line, automatically generate charts and export data for further analysis. On-line storage also prevents data loss due to factors such as staff turnover, hardware problems and virus attacks. Easier access to high-quality data can also be of great help when writing new grant proposals.
For programmes and projects in various areas, regions or countries, internet-based monitoring tools can greatly facilitate the compilation of activity reports and indicators, including financial and inventory data.