I have been part of a market based value chains program that was focused on women's empowerment. We were using an almost expereimental M&E system that had qualitative and quanititative elements. So what we did was after every quarterly meeting we disected our data and discussed with staff, what it meant, why these results and what change then we should adopt and wrote back to our donors on that and icnluded the necessary changes. What I thought was most useful is to make sure that M&E data was made meaningful to everyone and not only to the M&E team and also seeing it as part of the projects ongoing process. We also used it discriptively on our reporting and made decisions based on it including changes.
I hope this helped.
I work as Evidence Synthesis Specialist with Campbell Collaboration, New Delhi. I work on evidence synthesis and its use in evidence-based practice and policy. I have program management experience as well. Will be keen to see how I can help you on this. You can write to me at email@example.com
Hi Lula, a response on our facebook page
Sorry to respond late. The challenge will be determining how to effectively get at your existing evidence and bring it to the atttention of the program planning cycle. You need to consider what information you have, but more importantly, what do you need to know and then assess whether the evidence you have serves your need. It is sometimes true that stores of data may not actually serve current needs. Make sure the effort to incorporate the evidence is worthwhile.
I suggest adopting a cyclical reflection/action framework (I'm pretty sure better evaluation or a quick web search will provide various examples) based on collaborative/participatory and culturally responsive evaluation principles could allows you to not only mine existing data, but also takes into account the perspectives of your relevant stakeholders. As Fanaye suggested below, this could be done in an existing meeting (quaterly, monthly, etc.). The effort needs to be PURPOSE-driven. Simply juicing intelligence from a store of data without clear purpose will burden collaborators with no clear results. Depending on the level of expertise among the stakeholders, a series of critical questions could be unearthed in an initial meeting, such as: what do we want/need to know that will improve our FILL IN THE BLANK (such as operations, effectiveness, etc.). THEN consider what exisitng information already answers the most critical questions prioritized by the group. How is the information stored? Is it in a series of under-utilized reports? A study circle process could be used where team members each take a report or section and search for the relevant findings and recommendations and share at the next meeting -- or if the reports are not dense, that could happen as part of the same meeting.
If the info is in a monitoring database, is the database accessible? up to date? are you able to query the data or can it only be accessed by someone with specific skills or training...?
Don't forget the untapped wisdom stored within the experience of your stakeholders. Using interactive processes to gather what people think and know periodically through simple wisdom-mining exercises serves as another source of existing data that can be tapped at the same time (e.g. discovering what information is needed as the process progresses and re-thinking what you have in store as evidence and how it serves you best). Look to interactive participatory action research strategies to customize ways of knowing and gathering knowledge.
Good luck! and feel free to reach out for clarification.
I have a similar input as Geri. Using systemic participatory action research helps in ownership, collective thinking and stimulates action. As we operate in complex and dynamic environment where things change fast, pausing and reflecting on action and then taking action is more effective. Also issues are inter-connected and this collaborate process is very valuable. One challenge is dynamics between the stakeholders- whose voice is valued, whose knowledge is more important, in my experience using a strength-based approach is very helpful in creating a safe environment for everyone to bring everyone at the same page.