SIAA Member Dawn Wood discusses the benefits and challenges of using off-the-shelf monitoring tools:
Here’s a conundrum I’ve been coming across recently, fuelled by rising awareness of off-the-shelf monitoring tools. It is all about setting indicators and identifying data gathering tools – and the occasions when these two merge!
After running courses on Demonstrating Outcomes for several years, my impression is that people are now much more comfortable with the concept of outcomes versus outputs than they were a few years ago. However the interpretation and usage of indicators is still quite variable.
My approach has always been that once the outcomes are articulated, then clients need to consider what indicators will tell them whether they are being achieved. After that we look for tools that can collect the data. For example, if the outcome is reduced social isolation, then there are a range of indicators that might be appropriate, from whether they have someone to talk to about day to day problems, to the number of occasions people attend community groups and activities in a month.
Once we know what indicator we want to measure, we can select the most appropriate tool that will help us to gather the data in ways which provide both quantitative information as well as qualitative insights – in this case around participation and enjoyment of the community group attended – not just physically being present!
However, there are many off-the-shelf-tools where others have already done the work for us. They come with a ready-made set of indicators, which can save clients time and trouble producing their own. So I’m finding that some clients are fast forwarding the process – picking a psychological scale for loneliness, or adopting one of the outcomes stars and getting started, with less concern for the specific indicators involved.
So, my question is, does it matter? Read on >>