Above: Erasmus bridge in Rotterdam. Photo by Jana Gombitova.

Two forces drive how we, the team behind Akvo Flow, Akvo Lumen and Akvo Caddisfly, develop our software every year: the change we want to contribute to and constant learning. We keep the end goal – our partners achieving lasting and inclusive impact – firmly in sight, while continuously seeking feedback from our partners.

Akvo Flow began as a solution to the many problems associated with paper-based data collection, from high transportation costs to mistakes made in the digitisation process. Later, we learned about another challenge our partners were facing: what if the situation in the field changes? We added a monitoring feature to Flow, allowing our partners to go back, collect more data, and track change over time. We then noticed a growing need to test water quality while capturing data in the field. This resulted in our partnership with FFEM and brought water quality testing to your Flow forms via Akvo Caddisfly.

While Flow solves the problems around paper-based data collection, it doesn’t help you generate insights from your data in the same simple and scalable way. What’s the point in having over six million submissions if you cannot learn from them? That’s why we created Akvo Lumen. We knew the scale of the data you had in Flow, and that there were other datasets out there for you to use. With Lumen, you can import datasets from any source to generate insights. We learned that when it comes to understanding data, you find working with sheets time consuming and overwhelming, but visual and colourful representations of relations, composition or distribution of values help you get a better grasp of the situation. That’s why we made creating visualisations, such as bubble charts or maps, easy and quick. We launched Lumen a year and a half ago and what we’ve learned since has shaped the decisions we’ve made moving forward.


Bringing Flow, Lumen and Caddisfly closer together

Our goal is to support you on your data journey so that you can move from data to decision as effectively and efficiently as possible. That's why we're bringing all of your data tasks under one roof. #Akvo #DataJourney Click To Tweet

Our goal is to support you on your data journey so that you can move from data to decision as effectively and efficiently as possible. We learned that working with two separate products complicates this journey and all of the processes you go through along the way. For you to become more accountable, collaborative and effective and contribute to lasting and inclusive impact, we need to bring all of your data tasks under one roof. 

We will focus on bringing the values of Flow, Lumen and Caddisfly closer together in 2019. We will create bridges between the three to give you one value, one experience, and eventually one data platform. Our aim is to create one product that supports you in capturing, monitoring and understanding the data you need to improve your decision making and strengthen the impact you strive for.

Above: Akvo Flow, Akvo Caddisfly and Akvo Lumen in 2018. 

Simplify, connect and scale in 2019


Our main focus is to move from the two separate products, Akvo Flow and Akvo Lumen, to one experience. This is, however, not an easy task. We will take it one step at a time to ensure that we learn as we go, starting by strengthening the existing connections between the two products. And we have already started. For example, we simplified how you transform your water test results and other Flow data, coming from cascading or option questions, in Lumen. We’ve done this by creating new transformations, extract multiple value columns and split columns. Currently, we are working on making Lumen more robust so that it can handle updating your large Flow datasets with new submissions.

We will begin 2019 by focusing on supporting you in using Flow and Lumen across your entire organisation at any scale. We aim to ensure you can access Flow and Lumen functionality with one user account and that your access and roles in both products are unified. We hope to learn more about how you organise working with data across your programmes and those involved, to ensure user access is easy to set up but ensures data is handled in a responsible way.

Next, we plan to take away the manual steps you now need to go from your Flow data to Lumen visualisations and dashboards. We want to simplify the user interface by connecting Flow and Lumen features and by moving away from the need to always select your form with each task. When making these changes, we hope to learn more about which data tasks you do regularly to target our focus and further improvements.

Thank you for joining us and for guiding our learning by using our products, joining our tests, sharing your insights, and asking us questions – we are listening. All the pivot moments in our products’ history were driven by our goal and guided by learning. Today is no different.

Jana Gombitova is the product manager for Akvo Flow, Akvo Lumen and Akvo Caddisfly. You can follow her on Twitter @janagombitova.