Four reasons to implement an information management system for your M&E activities right now
When working in humanitarian aid, emergency or development programmes you need to have access to updated, accurate and timely information. Information management has become increasingly important in supporting the M&E process of the non profit organization for better data collection, analysis, reporting and visualization. Also, there are risks related to data security and integrity when adequate attention is not paid to the approach to information management.
In this article, we will look at four reasons why it is critical to implement an information management system for your Monitoring and Evaluation activities right away.
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Improving efficiency within your organization
The longer you wait to move to a new information management system, the harder it will get as people will be less and less inclined to accept change, if they get used to an existing system. Even worse, if no system exists, different teams might start creating their own systems to meet their needs. Managing change and expectations, inside an organization early on ensures an easier transition and faster success with the new system. In such cases, the strategic allocation of time and informed planning becomes invaluable, ensuring that all stakeholders understand why a change is needed and how they will be affected.
Take a look at the change management process inside two organizations who adopted ActivityInfo, to get some ideas for your own management process:
ACDI/VOCA manages M&E at the global level and supports the success of over 25 project teams with a common MIS platform
From global indicators monitoring to strategic evaluation and learning - how a common MIS platform is enabling IREX’s global MEL strategy
Keep projects on track
Putting an information management system in place can improve efficiency throughout the organization. With data available for data driven decision making, you can bring consistency within projects to meet their objectives and re-evaluate what intervention works successfully and what doesn't. Furthermore, you can design the implementation of your activities in parallel with the design of your information system and help everyone stay informed using a common reference which enables the organization to achieve desired results.
Foster a common sense of direction
With an information management system you can also improve operational efficiency by helping create a common sense of direction for people within the organization and people working directly with beneficiaries. This can provide a clear vision to make informed decisions and can simplify work, thanks to a set of procedures that can be put into place in parallel to the information management system to define best practices for data collection, analysis, management and storage. The leading teams inside the organization can ensure that the project deliverables and objectives are being achieved and keep everyone on the same page.
Maintaining data quality
Data quality is a central part of humanitarian and development operations since data is used to make important and timely decisions when working with beneficiaries. Having an information management system in place ensures that the organization is able to properly manage raw data coming in, turning it into meaningful insights. This ensures data quality from the very start of the project.
Then, because information might be collected in different platforms and across different reporting areas, data silos can be created. Fragmented information can hinder data quality and prevent you from reaching useful insights. Centralizing data collection and data management efforts leads to data quality improvement, more timely reporting and consequently more efficient activities. An information management system can prove to be an invaluable partner in this case.
Mitigating data security risks
The humanitarian and development sector often deals with sensitive and confidential data. With an information management system, which includes powerful user management capabilities, you can guarantee that access to the data is restricted to authorized personnel exclusively. Then, additional policies and procedures for data management within your team and built around this system can enhance data protection further.
Accountability and transparency have a prominent role in all organizations in demonstrating that resources and funding are being used efficiently. Without a system in place, it can be difficult to meet the donor(s) requirements because of the absence of proper reporting. Lack of evidence and consistency in showing that the project is meeting goals and objectives can hinder the organization’s progress or even harm its reputation.
All in all, with an information management system in place you can avoid data quality loss and track your projects progress more efficiently. A well-constructed information management system also facilitates the early detection of potential issues and allows you to provide robust evidence on how the funds and resources are being allocated across your organization. Transitioning to a new information management system sooner, rather than later, can enhance its acceptance and success rate among stakeholders. The longer stakeholders invest in an existing system, the less inclined they are to embrace change.