Akvo RSR now has a colourful beginner’s manual that starts small and folds out big. It is designed to be used in training sessions with field and support staff, who are learning how to use Really Simple Reporting for the first time.

We put care and thought into its design – involving lots of the team – with the goal of creating something people felt excited to have in their hands. It explains what RSR is designed to do, outlines the steps someone needs to take to get set up with a username and password and explains how to post status updates to projects. It includes hints and tips from our staff, plus guides to what makes good text, photo and video updates. The design emphasises how easy and satisfying Akvo RSR is to use. When fully folded out, the manual’s reverse side becomes a poster, which can be pinned on the office wall, to remind people why they should be posting regular updates.

The manual will be the centrepiece of a training kit that will be introduced in autumn 2012. These kits can be distributed during field workshop training, either by Akvo trainers or those who have been trained and now teach others how to use RSR. It also helps partners understand that Akvo RSR is about more than software – it’s about encouraging a different mindset, one of openness and cooperation, and this takes time and effort.

A simplified black and white version of the manual is right now being finalised that will be available for download and A4 printing, for partners using Akvo RSR who are not paying for our training and support or who need something in a hurry. This (and French and Spanish versions) will replace the existing online manuals.

The project was managed by Linda Leunissen in London, who somehow managed to turn what was in our heads into something tangible. We worked closely with Kathelyne van den Berg, Lissy van Noort, Beth Whiteside and Charlotte Soedjak on the content. Julian Parsons and Jo Kemp at Sign Graphic Design here in Bermondsey also helped us through the print spec and production phase. The design built on work done at the beginning of the year by Jo Pratt and the people at Subsoda in the Netherlands, on our training video bumpers.

Contact Lissy or Charlotte via if you want to get some samples.

Mark Charmer is co-founder and communications director at Akvo.