Best Practice In Measuring Program Effectiveness

unmeshshethUncategorized, Articles

Measuring Program Effectiveness

Many public sector organizations and international development organizations struggle at measuring program effectiveness. Despite significant progress made towards the UN’s Millennium Development Goals for 2015, challenges remain, most notably at developing stable foundation for sustainable progress. Currently non-government organizations (NGO) operate ineffectively because of limited size, resources, and tools to measure efficiency and impact.

Social sector organizations and funders vary in levels of inefficiency while collecting data, measuring impact, and empowering intended constituency. Most of these organizations use inaccurate methods of measurement lacking analytical scope. Data often cannot be shared in an open source format maximizing benefit and communication. Current rise in social impact funding necessitates critical focus on effective impact measurement for internal decision-making and transparency.

Background

Many Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Innovations systems, designed by prevailing vendors such as Social Solutions, ClientTrack, and Broderbund, are inefficient when it comes to collecting, monitoring, and analyzing data as their data infrastructure, orientation methods, and reporting measures are outdated. This lack of technological adaptation impedes the rate of progress and development of the social sector.

SoPact’s modular and scalable platform utilizes cloud computing platforms providing a low cost data management system that is easy to deploy, maintain, and customize. SoPact demonstrated early success working with Enable India, a highly acclaimed organization, to increase placement of disabled beneficiaries into jobs in underprivileged communities. Implementation of a foolproof beneficiary progress tracking system and program outcome management strategies has since powered Enable India’s growth. Our product has enhanced their storytelling and potential to execute the task of creating organized working capacities in a developing country where 80% of 500 million laborers are in the unorganized labor sector.

Our Approach

Transparency and communication issues shroud current measurement practices between funders and impact evaluators due to lack of shared context and common language. Imagine a pyramid, at the top funders use B Analytics/GIIN with IRIS 3.0 with standardized financial metrics such as profit, revenue, etc., and at the bottom are impact evaluators measuring with statistical aptitude in research context. Evaluating impact without a shared language results in a gaping void, isolating the top and bottom of the pyramid. SoPact focuses on filling the void by implementing an agile system emphasizing two areas of measurement bridging funders and social impact evaluators: program outcome improvement and shared value creation.

Measuring Program Effectiveness

A challenge in measuring program effectiveness is that most data collection methods are poorly designed, which in turn generate poor reports and analytics. SoPact addresses the challenge by providing a packaged data dictionary with rich metadata designed from industry standards and successful practices. In addition to supporting IRIS, the platform supports flexible integration for individual requirements, which eliminates significant training and maintenance overhead and makes the process of mid-cycle change within an organization quick.

Our experience with the largest nonprofit in India, challenged us to design an affordable and replicable system for developing countries’ independent social sector organizations with needs of a replicable process. The power and simplicity of our user experience has been testified by primary users across all educational levels, from field workers with little or no education to graduates in computer science.

SoPact supports real-time analytics, something that is typically not found with most social sector enterprise platforms. Visualization features focus on improving increasing data integrity and completeness and individualizing the big picture with accessible and dynamic graphics. Finally, program level metrics are designed to be shared with individual funders.

Shared Value Creation

Currently, impact investors and grantors deal with many complicated measurement tools and frameworks. Most investors find it difficult to navigate through the complex ambiguity. Instead, we offer a collaborative process that focuses on improving consistency within their own internal ecosystem between funders and funded. SoPact is based on community-oriented products and out-of-box intuitive wizards that promote collaboration of metrics and shared content within and outside different networks such as: social venture/social enterprises, CSR/NPO, and social enterprises/remote impact aggregators.

Demonstrating Impact

SoPact reminds all partners of their core tracking indicators through surveys, reports, and core objects. These tracking indicators have built-in prompters based on a pre-defined frequency. Both sides can visualize aggregated data for rapid course correction. Our base system is designed on the accredited Salesforce platform, thus allowing organizations to integrate their ESG+financial data. Metrics, data sets, and analyses can be shared to improve internal outcome within community and to collaborate outside with an open data approach.

Conclusion

SoPact delivers a platform based on human centered design. The social sector needs an innovative system that improves traditional program data measurement and builds collaboration via shared practices. We have reached a point where no amount of philanthropic resources can solve today’s social imbalances. Instead, we need innovative approaches combined with an effective data tool kit. MERLIN tools should go beyond impact measurement and focus on engineering impact with a real-time contextual approach.

SoPact has partnered with Enable India and The William Davidson Institute of the University of Michigan to measure, share knowledge, and develop partnerships with various social knowledge domains. Sharing diverse knowledge can revolutionize other domains such as vocational training, employment, HIV/AIDS prevention, immunization, family planning, child survival etc.

Our proven success aligns with leading M&E organizations in developing communities. We believe this is a key to measuring program effectiveness.

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