So, in a previous blog entry I talked about how important it was to understand the data flowing through your organisation and who is using data for what. I have also mentioned the link between M&E and business planning and developing new interventions and projects.
However some people are still unsure about how data that is collected in the field about a project can or should be used in designing a strategy or a new intervention. If you are one of these, we really should talk, offline, as I’ll always be limited in how specific I can get in a blog and sometimes sitting down with someone and working through a solution with them is so much better.
But if all you’re looking for is a general sense of when to refer to your data during the process, then I’ve re-created the standard business planning process map and highlighted the points at which you want to consider referring to the data that your previous work as generated (click on the image below for a larger view). There are versions of this map all over the internet. I have seen versions of this map being used by everyone from business leaders to social impact analysts.
You need to constantly refer to your data as evidence to support changes or developments in your activities. Of course, your data is not the only source that you should depend upon, there will be outside sources of data and external drivers that will help to inform what your strategy and intervention should look like. But taking the lessons learned from previous activities and implementing them into your current planning will mean that you are improving the effectiveness of your organisation all the time, becoming more effective and more focused.
Have you had a chance to use data from previous activities to improve a new strategy or project? How well did that go? Have you seen the difference yet?