Kobo. Magpi. Ona. Have you heard any these words before? If your answer is yes, you have probably heard of the concept of digital data collection. Collecting data in the field using an application on a phone or tablet. Increasingly organisations recognize the advantages of collecting data this way: no data entry, no printing, and higher levels of control during the collection process. At MDF Training & Consultancy we receive more and more support requests for digital data collection.
No need for internet
Not all organisations are already convinced. During our M&E trainings we practice with digital data collection. Counter-arguments we often hear include: “our field staff is not very familiar with such tools”, “it is too expensive for us” or “there is no internet in the area”. These are all valid arguments, but we have found that in reality these are easy to overcome. A one-day training is often enough to familiarize data collectors with the tool. Today, many free tool options exist (e.g. Kobo) which do not require any internet connection. Once you have used the right tool for your data collection needs, you will wonder why you have been collecting data using paper forms for so long.
Selecting the best tools
However, selecting the right tool requires doing some research as there are many options available. The first step we always take is to come up with selection criteria for such a system. These could include Myanmar language can be used, photo questions can be included, and data can be filled by beneficiary themselves. After that we prepare an overview of various tools and assess if they fit all or most of the criteria. We then select the best tool for the job to be done, and start setting up the system.