Advanced digital tools create new possibilities
Social development has reached an exciting part of the year. Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) have been enhanced, for the first time, by advanced digital tools that not only track progress but essentially assesses the long-term social impact and embraces community-driven project design.
Moving beyond the traditional subjective evidence, the latest M&E methodologies have created new possibilities regarding the in-depth analysis of the outcomes of social investment programmes, giving us ways to deliver accurate statistical evidence.
The latest models and digital tools entering the ecosystem now support everything from impact management and development evaluation, all the way through to impact investing, the emergence of outcomes-based social investment, and a focus on the sustainability of programme impact.
The rapid growth in the use of Big Data, open-source software platforms, user-friendly and integrated data collection platforms (using smartphone-based IT solutions), blockchain technology, cloud-based software, and software-as-a-service, have made some of this possible. Collectively, these allow social enterprises to explore patterns of programme effect in both big picture and minute detail. This means we can accurately predict how and when programme impact will occur, changing how we make programme decisions.
It’s all about real-time assessment and greater evidence-based decision making in a programme implementation setting in the world of data we are living in. Because the concept of impact management is supported by generation tools, it’s becoming possible to proactively manage programmes by continuously monitoring and making sense of data and how it relates to the overall objective of funding. This means that we can frame impact within a far shorter period, with a new understanding of the levers and mechanisms that unlock it. This supports real-time decision-making and iterative programme improvements on the fly, ensuring that programmes align with the dynamic needs of communities.
What makes impact investing even more exciting development is that the “user” (programme participant) becomes a key player when it comes to designing interventions. This shift from seeing participants as “beneficiaries” to seeing them as “users, participants and creators”, will change the potential impact of social interventions in the future; challenging how we currently think about and design programmes.
As Tshikululu, we’re committed to continuing to work with all of our project stakeholders to leverage M&E as a strategic enabler. With a strong M&E focus, strategic investment that delivers real and measurable change becomes a programmed reality, bringing us closer – investment by investment – to the betterment of our country and our people.
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