Organizations are increasingly using mobile-based technologies for monitoring and evaluation purposes. But for many it has been difficult to comprehend how this is possible? Often field researchers working for NGOs raise the question whether it is possible to use mobile-based data collection tools? If so how is it possible?
A good starting point is to find out how does the mobile-based software or platform will work particularly keeping your survey instrument in mind. You can find out by asking the service providers to demonstrate how the software or system works. Once you see the software and system in action you will be able to better gauge whether to set-up the system in-house or outsource it to a service provider.
Here are some of the key considerations in selecting a software platform or service provider:
Types of Survey Questions
Does the software or service provider or both have the capacity to integrate the questions that you have? Such as tabular family rosters, complex multiple questions, open questions etc. How quickly can the paper based survey be turned into a mobile platform? How long will it take to modify or update the mobile-based survey instrument?
Management and Control
If you decide to go ahead with the implementation, will you be able to manage the software or system by yourself? What could be the technical skills that you will need for this? Plus, are these skills easily available in-house? On the other hand does the technology require on-going support of the service provider? If that is the case will you be able to update the software or platform yourself in real-time?
Is it possible for you to monitor and track your staff in real time while the data is being collected?
How secure is the system? Will you be able to maintain the privacy of data being collected?
Budgetary Considerations & Timelines
Does the mobile-based technology fit your timelines and budget requirements? What are the infrastructure improvements that you will have to install to make the new solution a reality?
The last thing that you need to take into consideration is how CUSTOMIZABLE is the solution offered? Will this solution be adequate enough to address your organizational needs?
All these questions will help you identify the best solution going forward and more importantly provide you with field-level data from the projects in real-time. This would also bring in greater transparency as you would be able to gauge the real impact your support is having at the field level rather than generating a one-time annual report which often lacks the capacity to provide real-time insights into your work.