The top five strategies our clients use to make data actionable
and why you should do the same!
1. Know what to measure
It’s not possible to optimize what isn’t measured, and it is also not possible to measure everything. Some development programs have dozens of indicators, and implementors must decide which of these indicators to focus; which indicators drive programmatic decisions, and which only fulfill donor expectations. While it’s not an “either” “or “choice, knowing which indicators have the potential for the most programmatic impact is essential. For example, if a technical advisor knows that the ultimate program objective is to link farmer organizations to financial institutions, then s/he may want to focus on improving the farmer organization’s business acumen. This focus will achieve multiple goals (i.e., improved production, improved labor rights, improved environmental management, etc.
2. Use segmentation to drive action
Go for segmentation if you want to act on your data. By grouping farmer organizations that have some attributes in common, you can start digging deeper. Choosing which segments to examine depends on the development question you are trying to answer. For example, in the heatmap below, you see that organizations are segmented according to their level of professionalism (overall and in specific dimensions). This helps you target the low hanging fruit as well as to build a targeted technical assistance program for weaker organizations.
3. Make the most of benchmarks
Benchmarking is a process for obtaining a measure – a benchmark. In other words, benchmarks are the “what,” and benchmarking is the “how.” Benchmark data can tell you how your agribusinesses stack up against agribusinesses of a similar size, in a commodity, and geographic region.
4. Build a solid optimization plan
Once you have identified commonalities and shared strengths/weaknesses, you can begin to design a tailored technical assistance plan (IFC’s Agribusiness Leadership Program may be a good place to start) for farmer organizations. If you are dealing with many organizations at once, segmentation and benchmarking will help you develop a general plan that you can roll out at scale.
Clients who conduct reassessments know that, in the long run, the cost outlay for a reassessment (general cheaper than for a baseline) is worth it. This is because clients can establish whether a project is making strides towards the set goals and objectives. Reassessments present an opportunity to act as a call to the change of implementation strategies and therefore allowing the client to make crucial decisions midpoint and avoid spending precious program money on approaches that aren’t working.