In these unprecedented times, NGOs and social impact organizations have to adjust their way of tracking and evaluating data. Impact measurement will also have to be adapted to the new normal. In accordance with public health and social distancing measures, in-person data collection methods will be not much possible in the short term and not very sure how long to remain at such condition. Data collection, both quantitative or qualitative, can still be done using virtual data collection strategies.
Here are my top 3 thoughts on data collection and evaluations in the face of COVID-19.
1. The need of prioritizing data to track according to the importance
As a lot of operations have been affected and yet limitations to data collection have emerged, it is very important to revisit the frameworks and prioritize the more important data first. That should be very different from an organization to organization. Not only the level of importance of the data can be changed, there may be even new measures to be focused (e.g. safety guidelines). The assessment should be focus on meaningful contribution to the purpose of projects.
2. The use of remote techniques and awareness of technological constraints
Using Zoom for certain meetings has been sky rocketed. Many organizations are already applying phone interviews, virtual meetings, google forms and other surveys, etc. for the data collection. Meanwhile, there are constraints like internet connection, security issues, familiarity of technology by either of parties, cost of data and willingness to adapt are several issues faced in using technology. Radical empathy and realistic approach are critical as well as the need to communicate for change has to be done a lot. We are human beings!
3. The importance of being realistic and openness to learn
Since this crisis has changed a lot in the ways we socialize each other, it is important to notice that everyone is still learning what is happening around us. Many organizations and businesses have been stopped or stagnated. In that sense, being open to learn what is the best way to adapt as we navigate into the new normal is critical. There will be some trials and errors. At the same time, coherence to the vision of projects itself has not to be lost in the process.
In changing the scope of evaluation, it is important to communicate clearly on the need of change and show willingness to listen to the need of the respondents too. The key is not to overlook feasible improvements. There will be some opportunities cost at first but, as we get through this, we will learn a lot about development works in post-COVID, I hope.
(Dr. Hein Paing Htoo Chit is the Founder of SEED for Myanmar. For more information, please visit www.DrHeinPaingHtooChit.com)