Dr. Joel Selanikio, CEO of Magpi, and Priscilla Chomba Kinywa of DanChurch Aid joined NetHope for a webinar last month to discuss Magpi’s new Reports toolset, which improves data visualization and reporting capabilities. There’s no coding necessary, and no programmers are required. “This stuff is as easy to use as Facebook,” said Selanikio. During the webinar Selanikio took attendees on a virtual tour of Magpi to demonstrate the fully customizable ease and elegance of the new tools. The Reports dashboard, and the customizable work flow appear fluid and intuitive, even for a novice user.
Following Dr. Selanikio’s demonstration, Priscilla Chomba Kinywa, global advisor for technology and innovation for DanChurch Aid (DCA), took the helm to discuss her organization’s use of Magpi. Kinywa explained that DCA “rarely implements anything as an organization, and that the majority of their work is done through local partnerships. “We find local partners, and apart from our humanitarian mine action programs, we look for local NGOs that are already on the ground and work with those.”
“There’s no need for somebody to be an Excel guru.” – Priscilla Chomba Kinywa, DanChurch Aid
But, since no two NGOs are alike, DCA works with a wide range of partners with varying capacities. For this reason, DanChurch Aid has encouraged the use of Magpi with all of its collaborators. Not only does Magpi increase efficiency and accuracy in data collection and reporting, DCA can give its partners a tool they can control, said Kinywa, “It’s very easy to create a form.”
Kinywa also likes Magpi's new reports features, which include real-time monitoring elements: “The things that I’m finding very exciting are the possibilities to monitor how we are doing based on targets.” Now through Magpi Reports, data fluctuations can be clearly seen almost immediately, and staff can ask the right questions to make real-time adjustments to aid delivery. Users visualize field data in Magpi without exporting it to other programs like Excel. This means that DanChurch Aid can quickly communicate with their partners regarding issues in the field that pertain to those receiving assistance.
Looking ahead, Kinywa expressed her excitement at the prospect of using compelling data visuals in near-real time with those in charge of programing, “A lot of senior management doesn't have the patience to sit and look at boring charts, so if we can get them some colorful charts, I think we can influence a change in the direction that programming is going.” Now that the tools to alter programming as it is being rolled out are here, Kinywa sees the current system of evaluating a failed program months later as, “old school.”
Dr. Selanikio agreed, noting that the real-time nature of the reports allows for the use of some visual reporting elements like “meters.” The meter below shows the ongoing progress of a data collection activity. In this case, 80 records have been collected toward the goal of 100.
Showing real-time progress towards a goal on a meter, rather than simply in text, emphasizes to the user that what they are seeing is changing as they watch. These elements, styled after the meters on mechanical equipment or car dashboards, make visual sense in a real-time environment.
A recording of this webinar, as well as a PDF of the presentation, can be found here.