Tip #2: Feedback on data quality
NGO staff need to know that the M&E data they tirelessly collect is actually being used!
The first way to do this is to provide feedback on the quality of data collected and captured. Once data is analysed, staff need to be given feedback on the results (see our next tip!) [Jennifer to provide a link to article 3 here].
At Life Choices we conduct quality assurance of captured data once a month, but the first step for ensuring data quality is at the point of collection.
When providing feedback on the data collected by fieldworkers, three points are important:
- Focus on where they can improve
- Focus on what they are doing well
- Focus on why it is important
Where they can improve
Even when M&E data collection tools are well-designed (a topic for another day!), some missing, incomplete or incorrect data is inevitable. When this happens, it is important to communicate with fieldworkers. At Life Choices we have a low tech “sticky note” system where errors or missing information on forms is flagged by our data capturer. Fieldworkers are then given an opportunity to make corrections where possible on a weekly basis.
What they are doing well
Feedback shouldn’t be only negative in nature; positive feedback should also be given when fieldworkers are complying with data collection requirements. Only receiving negative feedback is a surefire way to breed resentment towards M&E! Once a month programme managers receive an email highlighting any improvements that have been made in the quality of monitoring data collected as well as if there are any issues that need to be addressed with staff.
Why it is important
Explain what the data will be used for!
A few months ago the M&E team at Life Choices noticed a trend where fieldworkers were not completing some of the demographic information on client records. Since one of our funders requires us to report on a monthly basis by age and gender, missing demographic data meant that some clients were being excluded from our reports and were not counting towards our targets. Without this being explicitly communicated to staff, they did not fully understand the implications of missing data. Once we explained this to them however, they became much more diligent in ensuring that forms were completed correctly and the problem was resolved.
If you missed Tip #1 click here!