As more organizations begin incorporating mobile data collection applications into their programs, it can be tricky to convey the unique value your approach brings. A program often has multiple stakeholders with varying levels of understanding and expectations, so tailoring your explanation to their understanding and expectations can help you build credibility in the eyes of a beneficiary, a partner, or a funder.
We have found that the most effective and clear explanations incorporate these three things:
- The needs of each stakeholder
- The unique benefits of the tool itself
Let’s look at how to approach and combine each of these aspects of your explanation:
The needs of your program
The first step in this journey should also be the one with the most clarity: Identify your end users and recognize your data collection program’s ability to serve them. We speak often about clarifying your project objectives before you begin designing a mobile data collection program, and that’s important. But in explaining your program to certain audiences, you may need to get even more specific about these objectives.
Be clear in your understanding of the product-user fit before you approach a partner. An app designed to help supervisors track their workers’ performance will take some tweaking before it can be used to improve service delivery outcomes. Your app might do more than one thing, but in order to perform the next step, you’ll need a comprehensive list of your initial objectives. This understanding will help you in explaining the strengths and limitations of your platform in the program’s context and will form the foundation upon which you will be able to set expectations going forward.
The needs of your stakeholders
A program often has multiple stakeholders and each of them usually expects a different result from the program. These results together may fulfill the overall objective of the program, but during construction, each one needs special attention:
- A program manager might require certain data to be measured for compliance purposes,
- A frontline worker could be interested in how the mobile data collection tool will make their job easier or make them more productive,
- A beneficiary will be interested in how their life will improve because of this program, and
- A funder will be interested in a platform that can solve a problem holistically at a reasonable cost.
This is how we arrive at the second step: Describe your program in a way that is tailored to each stakeholder. You listed the various objectives of your project in the first step, and now it’s time to pinpoint which of them belong to the audience you are speaking with.
How is your tool different?
Once you have recognized the goals your stakeholders seek to accomplish, the third step is to explain the methods by which you plan to achieve them. Your method of data collection could be a simple platform with a consolidated dashboard to monitor and evaluate the performance of the program. Or it could focus more on system-related objectives like the design and the training approach you intend to take to ensure app usage amongst your workers. Maybe it’s an off-the-shelf solution that can be scaled and modified to achieve various objectives in different regions.
Whatever the role your app seeks to fill, it has something unique about it that makes it worthy of adoption. Does it help users follow strict protocols, reducing maternal and infant mortality rates and increasing clinic visits? Does it feature case management functionality to track and diagnose patients faster than the old paper tool? Cite specific examples and, if possible, statistics from past projects to provide evidence of why your method would be an effective one.
Putting your explanation together
Let’s say a partner wants a digital health platform to assist with healthcare delivery for individuals with Sickle Cell Disease in rural Cambodia.
First, to determine this program’s need, you will need to understand who your user is, and the use case they have. Let’s say the platform will be used by the healthcare workers at the facilities for patient registry and longitudinal health care monitoring over time. Your prior knowledge of the platform can help you determine if it will be able to serve these functions for them.
The second step, in which you seek to understand the needs of your stakeholders, will help you in determining how your platform can fulfill their goals. Let’s assume that your stakeholders have these needs:
- The Sickle Cell Foundation, the funding organization, wants to monitor the overall performance and view the worker activity report.
- The healthcare provider wants an automated way to recommend the daily dosage requirements to the patients based on their conditions.
- Mapping each need of the platform to its stakeholder can help you determine the key messaging to use as you present your pitch.
Finally, your platform might be different from others in the market in many different ways. Now is the time to highlight the differences that are of specific interest to your audience. For example, functionality like patient tracking and case management and user-friendly UI might win over the healthcare provider, while data security features and third-party integrations might be more appealing to the funding organization and Ministry of Health.
Talking about your mobile data collection program can be tricky. By tailoring the message to your audience and including the need for your program, its benefits, and key differentiating features, you will be one step closer to winning the hearts and minds of your workers, partners, and funders.