John GambleDirector, Professional Services
Over the past few years C5 has been proud to work with and sponsor TackleAfrica, a multi-award winning international NGO who deliver HIV and other sexual health education in sub-Saharan and West Africa. Since 2016 C5’s support has been through IT and other technical assistance of the charities local fundraising efforts in Jersey – notably the Jersey Football Marathon event; but more recently in the design and implementation of a data collection service and reporting service using Microsoft Azure and Power BI.
Important for any organisation is the ability to use data to understand where their operations or initiatives are working, and perhaps more importantly to understand where they are not. Charities are no different. For a charity or NGO the ability to demonstrate that your methods are working and having an impact are crucial. Having the data to back up your conversations when fundraising or applying for grants is very important; and this is where TackleAfrica had a challenge.
In TackleAfrica’s projects, beneficiaries or attendees on their programmes are asked to participate in a knowledge test at different intervals throughout the teaching programme. Beneficiaries have their knowledge of HIV, FGM or whichever subject is being taught, benchmarked at the beginning of a 30-week programme. Beneficiaries are then benchmarked again a further three times in the programme – at 10 weeks in, at 20 weeks and finally at the end of their participation in the programme, typically 30 weeks. The aim of each programme is to empower young people to understand facts so they can make informed choices. For HIV, programmes aim to help young people: understand the virus; know how to prevent contracting it; how to live with it if they have it; and how to support people living positively.
Benchmarking and knowledge testing is done through a paper based questionnaire. On completion of the questionnaire the TackleAfrica coach will transcribe the results into an Excel Spreadsheet and pass that to the Regional Programme manager. The Regional Programme manager collates the data locally, but also sends the files back to the TackleAfrica Head Office in the UK so they can monitor how the programmes are going and identify learning and development opportunities.
TackleAfrica supports over 600 coaches in Africa. Each coach works with approximately 20-50 beneficiaries on a programme. The knowledge questionnaire is used every 10 weeks and contains anywhere between 12 and 20 questions depending on the subject matter. Beneficiaries can also come and go throughout the programmes – they don’t have to attend, so tracking individuals can be hard. 20 questions, x 30 beneficiaries, x 4 questionnaires, x 600 coaches creates a large set of data points for a manual process to handle. As well as the delay in collating the data, the raw data is hard to use, visualise, track and understand what it is telling you. This can create delays in providing feedback to coaches so they can adjust their courses to improve the overall learning outcomes.
Digital Transformation applies as much to charities and NGOs as it does to the corporate sector. It is an iterative process using technology to collect data, analyse it – understand what it is telling you; and then adjust through automation or process re-engineering to make things more efficient or effective. You don’t try and re-engineer the whole process at once, rather focus on small part and then iterate and expand.
For TackleAfrica using technology the initial challenge was one of consolidating and using the data. This was a time-consuming manual exercise pulling together data from hundreds of spreadsheets. This component was replaced with a technology solution whereby the Regional Managers would upload the spreadsheets to a website which would extract the data from the spreadsheets, loading the data into SQL Azure database. Power BI was then used to consolidate and provide reporting insight into the data held. To help facilitate this process the Excel spreadsheets were adjusted and standardised and an input guide created.
The results of this have been very successful. Time to consolidate data and get information back to Regional Managers has been reduced from days or weeks to just a few minutes. This allows more time for Regional Managers and Coaches to adapt their programmes to cater for individual learning requirements. Coach and programme performance can be monitored, and support given where needed. Insights from trends and challenges in subject matter can more easily be identified and adapted, business intelligence is now woven into daily operations rather than a delayed and separate process.
Furthermore, the Power BI reporting and visuals can be used in external reporting back to sponsors and organisations that have provided sponsorship, funding and grants.
C5 has enjoyed working on this project with TackleAfrica and we’ve been delighted to see the results used in reports back to sponsors. We look forward to seeing how the project develops.
For more information about how we can support your organisation with understanding and reporting your data using PowerBI, email us at email@example.com or call +441534 633 733.