Quality, reliable data is an essential part of any successful development project. Good data informs decision making, tests project hypotheses, and contributes to learning.
With funding from Technical and Operational Performance Support (TOPS), a USAID/Food for Peace (FFP)-funded program, ACDI/VOCA has launched version 2.0 of the Information System for Management, Analysis, and Reporting Timeliness—better known as I-SMART—a data collection tool for organizations implementing Title II Food for Peace projects.
Tracking Progress, Results for Food Security Projects
ACDI/VOCA’s food security portfolio includes a range of integrated programs that present many challenges for monitoring and evaluation. In particular, it is often difficult to track project participants and maintain accurate information about them. And depending on the context, introducing new technologies or software can be a major hurdle due to limited staff capacity.
TOPS tasked ACDI/VOCA with developing I-SMART as a low-cost technology to ensure timely and accurate reporting on Food for Peace project activities. The system combines the use of the MagPi data collection platform installed on tablets with the database strength of Microsoft Access. I-SMART promotes partner ownership and capacity and contributes to sustainability as the tools are easy-to-use and transferable to partners.
Release of Version 2.0 with More Features, Integrated Feedback
With additional funding from TOPS, ACDI/VOCA updated I-SMART and released version 2.0, which includes the option to collect GPS coordinates and a French translation. ACDI/VOCA, Save the Children, and OICI tested I-SMART v.2.0 with their projects in Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, and Liberia.
Staff reported that the use of mobile tablets was easy and better than paper. The new system dramatically reduced the time needed for data entry by combining collection and entry in one step. Staff also noted that with the daily upload of data they are able to more regularly monitor what is happening with a project, which helps them to identify and rectify problems earlier.