Since it first appeared in 1955, Parkinson’s law has rung so true that it has been adapted to apply to almost any area of life. The task always expands to fill the time allocated, data stored on your computer always expands to fill the hard drive, and yes ladies – the bigger the handbag, the more you carry. So we weren’t surprised to see that this law also applies to Akvo Really Simple Reporting (RSR).

Originally, most of the project fields in RSR were designed to limit the number of characters that could be entered.  For example, a Project Summary field was originally limited to 200 characters or less.  Lately, the length of this field has not been limited, which means we are seeing much longer project summaries in RSR.  In other words: our summaries have expanded to the space that is available.

When a Project Summary gets too long, the additional content that brings your project to life – your maps, photos, etc. – are eclipsed by text and not as visible to casual visitors to the website.  We want to help you make your entries shine and entice people to read beyond the Project Summary so we are in the process of fine tuning RSR.

Some of the improvements you can expect include:

1. Length limits on project fields
A re-introduction of length limits for project fields for all new projects. For existing projects, we will work with you to align existing information so you do not have to worry about losing any information.

2. An extra tab in project info
Reorganised public display of project information into four tabs so you can present information in a more logical order.

3. Score more goals
Three additional Goal item fields, for a total of 8.

4. More space for goals
Increased character limit in the Goal item fields from 60 to 100 characters so you can include more information on your project goals.

5. Changes to the “who will benefit” area
A “View More” drop down menu for the “Who will benefit?” section.

6. “Add update” is easier to find
A new, much more prominent, “Add Update” button on partner websites, as well as www.akvo.org.

You could say that Akvo is returning to our roots on RSR. Our goal has always been to make reporting, well, really simple. Our team is working hard to ensure that our metaphorical handbag does not get too heavy. So watch this space for these improvements, which we believe will put the “simple” back in Really Simple Reporting.

Emily Armanetti is communications manager at Akvo, based in New York City.

Update on 21 May. This latest release, Akvo RSR 2.0.5, went live last week. It includes all of the above improvements. The full release notes are available on Github here.

Photo: Emily’s handbag. Brooklyn, New York. Thursday 3 May 2012.