dashboard_480 In order to gain better insight in where we want to go, what we should measure to gauge success and in which way, late 2012 Lynn Greenwood and I started looking into Akvo performance indicators. Our former colleague Stefan Kraus had done previous work on this and suggested the indicators to provide guidance in the following areas – you can read more about it in his blog:
  • Growth – is Akvo growing at a healthy rate?
  • Visibility – are Akvo tools viewed and used by people around the world?
  • Quality – does Akvo continue to provide quality products that are valued?
  • Uptake of solutions – are Akvo’s tools used and implemented by partners?
  • Impact – is Akvo achieving its goals?
Balanced Scorecard The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a tool that aims to bridge the gap between strategy and daily operations, and can be used to formulate such performance indicators. Although it is generally used in a corporate environment, it can be just as valuable for non-profit organisations. The BSC is divided in four categories:
  • Financial – Focuses on the management and strength of our organisation’s financial base.
  • Customer – How do our partners view us?
  • Internal processes – What business processes must we excel at?
  • Learning and growth – Looks at the way we will sustain our ability to change and improve.
Akvo indicators At Akvo we generate and collect a lot of data. Number of project updates, data points collected, people trained, organisations using RSR, unique visitors, articles, and so much more. All are being measured and stored – we have virtual cupboards full of it. But this data is not really meaningful unless it is being looked at, visualised and shared. Of course at Akvo we look at some of the data we generate, but we could do more by visualising and displaying this data so that it tells the story. By pulling pre-defined data regularly, we have the latest readily available and we can make it visually attractive in just a few clicks. So what did we do? We wanted a couple of indicators per BSC category, of which a few show results from the past (backwards-looking indicators) and another few focus on future performances (forward-looking indicators). We came up with these ten high-level indicators per category:
  1. Track record (financial)
  2. Signed contracts (financial)
  3. Outstanding proposals / leads (financial)
  4. Financial self-sufficiency (financial)
  5. Partner satisfaction (customer)
  6. Outreach (customer)
  7. Reliability (internal processes)
  8. Performance (internal processes)
  9. Growth and capacity (learning and growth)
  10. Team (learning and growth)
Each of these high-level indicators has a description, one or several measurable indicators, the data source(s) from which to retrieve this data, and the measurement frequency. Lets take number 8 as example. With ‘Performance’ we wish to measure how well Akvo tools are performing. It’s categorised under ‘internal processes’ on the BSC. We set measurable indicators per product and for the Akvo website. On a monthly basis, we now measure the number of partners, number of updates on projects, number of views, etc – twelve such indicators in total. This data can then be visualized in different ways; in tables and graphs (see images below), but also on an online dashboard. This way the latest data is readily available for meetings, reports and presentations. Blog-image-project-updates-480 Blog-image-projects-graph-480 Blog-images-Akvopedia-web-stats-480 Towards a new Akvo product? We currently display some real-time data on the Akvo homepage. By starting to measure our own indicators, we have set a first step in the direction of potentially changing this into a service. Already we receive requests from partners to display statistics on their websites. We need to look into automating and presenting this into something that partners can use, in the form of an online dashboard. Then create a system that is flexible so that partners can define what they want. Thanks to Lynn Greenwood, internal IT/assistant to tech director, for help with this blog. Charlotte Soedjak is a project officer at Akvo. Top image is by Charlotte, of her car dashboard.