How to motivate partners to work together on a common information management system

ActivityInfo is a platform that facilitates the collaboration between thousands of users and multiple different organizations. Thanks to advanced permissions, it assists collaborative M&E and multi-partner reporting as well as the cooperation of case workers on case management activities.

Collaborating on a common information management system (MIS) such as ActivityInfo makes it easy to collect data from various different sources and maintain a single, centralized source of truth. Instead of exchanging spreadsheets and trying to figure out which file contains the latest information, you can ask all partners involved in your activities to report on a common database, which will be updated in real-time as the data comes in and which everyone can access online. A centralized source of information which collects information from local and national partners for example, helps maintain consistent, harmonized data which can be easily aggregated and can support your efforts on cross-sectoral gap analysis.

However, sometimes resistance to change is inherent to new ventures and persuading multiple stakeholders to join your initiative might take a little more effort. ActivityInfo is a platform created to be easy to use and once realizing its potential, your team and stakeholders can decrease the time spent on reporting and data entry significantly. Take a look at how the REACH Initiative in CAR reduced the time needed for reporting and turned data collection from a monthly process to a weekly process.

With this article we would like to give you some ideas on how to win the support of other partner organizations and stakeholders with incentives related to their work and mission.

Showcase individual results

Thanks to its various reporting tools, ActivityInfo allows you to create and publish reports using the platform itself or connect to other software such as Power BI and Tableau for more advanced dashboards. When collaborating with partners who implement activities across a region make sure to spend some time to visualize and share the results of their work at an individual-partner level.

While the high-level, aggregated results might be what drives decision-making at a regional level, this data wouldn’t be available if not for the effort or the field offices and local partners. So by zooming in a specific area or by focusing on the work of a specific partner you can easily showcase the amount of their impact and acknowledge their efforts. At the same time, by providing visibility for local and national NGOs you make sure that hard effort is recognized and increase the feeling of accomplishment among all stakeholders. What is more, such detailed perspective might reveal additional overlooked information about a region and trigger new activities and interventions. It can also provide you with comparable data which is necessary for cross-sectoral gap analysis.

When you showcase the achievements of a partner who reports systematically, you allow other partners who haven’t reported yet to see these results and understand the value of contributing with the data of their own activities as well.

Build capacity and understanding of the benefits of the platform

As with every tool, it is important to understand what can be done with ActivityInfo and how it can be leveraged in different settings. We have designed the platform so that every user can create a report or even work on their own databases using a Free Trial because we want every user to be able to get value out of their data. So by offering a training to your partners that apart from data entry, quickly showcases the reporting tools or the capabilities of the platform can build up their interest for the platform as they can see how they can use it for their own purposes and internal meetings.

Take a look at how the Kenya country office of the International Budget Partnership, following some brief training and support, leveraged ActivityInfo for their internal quarterly reflection sessions to help collectively track the efficiency and evaluate the effectiveness of their implementation strategies.

Minimize effort required where possible

Sometimes moving from a paper-based or spreadsheet-based data collection system to an online system can be viewed with hostility mostly because it is perceived as a task that requires additional effort. When rolled-out effectively, ActivityInfo can minimize the effort of all involved parties. For example, subforms allow faster repetitive reporting, reference forms, relevance rules, validation rules and input masks ensure you collect only the information you need, locks prevent users from adding data when a reporting period ends and many more. Make sure that you build a participatory system that keeps everyone’s interests in mind. Facilitate and minimize the effort needed for your partners to add their data and explain why and how this is saving time. Sooner or later the results will prove your point or will point out the parts of your system that need more work.

Take a look at an interactive indicator guidance tool designed by the Information Management Working Group in Turkey which improves indicator quality and makes partner training and the provision of indicator guidance to new agencies and staff easier and quicker.

You can also assist reporting partners in minimizing the repetitive requests for reporting. In many cases, on top of the forms in ActivityInfo, reporting partners need to fill in multiple templates related to their activities for the different types of donors or stakeholders they collaborate with. This can easily become an overwhelming, full-time activity. By pushing ActivityInfo as the common source of information you can reduce the amount of reporting requests they receive and help them create reusable reports and templates for these requirements.

Not sure how to build an effective system in ActivityInfo? Contact us to discuss it.