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Kerry Bruce on Choosing a Mobile Technology Platform for Your Evaluation

Hello, I am Kerry Bruce, the Director of Results and Measurement at Pact.  I’m currently based in Madagascar and support Pact programs in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. I am part of Pact’s central technical team that provides monitoring and evaluation support to more than 20 country offices and more than 70 projects around the world.  In 2012 we started to roll out the use of mobile technology in our programs including evaluation.  This is the second post on mobile technology and focuses on choosing your platform. Check out my first post on this topic: Getting Started with Mobile Phones.

Hot Tips:

  • Look at a wide range of available platforms and ask yourself:
    • What is my budget for phones?  Some platforms work better than others with entry level (vs. Android) smartphones.
    • What is my budget for the data collection?  Will my data collection reoccur frequently (on-going evaluation) or is this a one time event?  Each platform has a different pricing structure and each lends itself to different types of data collection.
    • Platform operators will promise you the moon – but will their platform deliver?  Test basic issues such as skip logic, ease of set-up and use, how data download and dashboards work before you buy.  Most platforms have a trial version that you can use and some allow small data collection projects for free.
    • Will I need help to set up my survey, or do I have the skill set to set it up in house?  Some platforms offer survey set up and technical support (useful for complicated data collection exercises) and some are all do-it-yourself.
    • What language will the survey be in and can the platform support it?  This is especially important for non-Latin alphabets.
    • Get a reference.  All these platforms should be able to provide you with a reference from someone who has used them before and can tell you what is good and what needs work.

Lesson Learned: Evaluate two or more platforms before you decide which one to use. 

  • Some have recurrent or annual costs and others only charge for the data that you collect.  Others are free up to a certain level of data collection.
  • Each platform has its strengths (and weaknesses) – you’ll need to understand what you need it to do and shop around until you find it.
  • Just because a platform can not do something today does not mean they won’t be able to do it tomorrow, check back and give feedback.  This technology is rapidly adapting.

Rad Resources: Here is a list of some of the mobile technology platforms that are commercially available today.

Bruce mobile tech

*These are platforms I have used.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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