Developing an online platform for development projects

The 1%Club, Akvo and others have started using online platforms to present and monitor relatively small-scale development projects, to build communities of supporters for each of these projects and to facilitate learning between the projects. These new ways of working, often referred to as development cooperation 2.0, have a lot of potential to be scaled-up and enable transparency, participation and learning in the bigger projects that receive a lot of the available development funds and involving the bigger international development organisations.

As part of the A Call 2 Action (#AC2A) initiative, a group has been formed that aims to explore the potential of an online platform for bigger development projects. This Action Plan outlines the process we envision to develop an online platform (with the working title Insight-out) where bigger development projects are monitored in a transparent way, where all participants in a project can form an online community around that project, and where learning between projects is facilitated. As far as we know, there are no such existing online platforms for biger development projects. By piloting such a platform for bigger developments projects, we aim to learn what organisational changes are needed in development organisations to become active on such online platforms and how it will change the way of working of bigger development players.

Goals

Transparency: the aim is to develop an online platform where development players are transparent about what they do in their projects and what results they are (not) achieving.

Participation: the aim is to develop an online platform that facilitates online communities around development projects. These project participants can be both people/organisations/companies that support the project (for example through funding or expertise) as well as people/organisations/companies that are being supported.

Learning: the aim is to develop an online platform that facilitates knowledge sharing between projects and between stakeholders on the online platform. By systematically tagging and mapping all project data and content (manuals, methodologies, etc.), existing knowledge and experience is more effectively shared and found.

Deliverables for #AC2A in 2011

At least three bigger projects have participated in the pilot and have been presented on an existing online platform and have been monitored real time online.

Online communities have been founded around these three projects that are made up by people/organisations/companies directly supporting or funding the projects and by people/organisations/companies that are directly being supported by the projects.

The project data of these online projects is tagged and searchable so it can be used for learning by others.

A final lessons learnt document is developed, describing the challenges encountered by the organisations that have piloted their projects on the online platform, describing the requirements of an online platform that can deliver on the goals listed above, and recommending ways forwards.

Approach: How to develop the online platform?

Step 1: Identification of projects

Step 2: Identification of the requirements for real time monitoring

  • Decide what kind of monitoring data / project data will be published
  • Map where / how this data will be collected
  • Develop manual on collecting and sharing data for real time monitoring
  • Decide on exceptions when certain data cannot be shared and describe processes to be followed
  • Identify and log all challenges encountered within participating organisations with regard to real time monitoring.

Step 3: Identification of the requirements for online community building

  • Outline the opportunities of online community building around projects
  • Collect ideas on how to stimulate/facilitate online communities around projects
  • Identify (innovative) ways to get feedback on projects and project results from both supporters as well as people that should have been supported by the projects.
  • Map / clarify the consequences of direct online project funding (opportunities and threats) for participating organisations.
  • In each participating organisation decide on a direct project funding model (incl. online payment tool and back-end arrangement for the tied funding)
  • Identify and log all challenges encountered within participating organisations with regard to online community building in general and direct online project funding in particular.

Step 4: Identification of the requirements for learning between online projects

  • Outline the opportunities of facilitating learning between the online projects
  • Collect ideas on how to stimulate/facilitate learning between the online projects:
  • Decide on process: how does knowledge / experience need to be shared and exchanged (e.g. workflow and form/packaging/tagging) on the online platform
  • Decide on content: what (type of) knowledge needs to be shared and exchanged (e.g. data and information, sills and competences).

Step 5: Bringing it all together on an online platform

  • Identify existing online platforms for smaller projects that can be used to pilot real time monitoring, online community building (including feedback from online community on project results and direct and tied project funding) and facilitation of learning related to bigger projects (>EUR 50.000).
  • Present the identified projects on one or various existing online platforms
  • Identify and log missing functions.

Step 6: Implementation

  • Keep projects up-to-date and project communities updated by adding continuous real time monitoring data.
  • Stimulate, facilitate the online project communities
  • Stimulate, facilitate sharing of learning between the projects
  • Identify and log all successes and challenges encountered during the implementation

Step 7: Evaluation and Recommendations for way forward

  • Collect and discuss all logs with information on the process
  • Communicate on a continuous basis on the developments
  • Organise reflection workshop with participating organisations
  • Ask feedback from online project communities
  • Bring it all together in a learning document with clear recommendations on ways forward

 

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2 responses to “Developing an online platform for development projects

  1. Hi Arjen,

    Good developments! Our system is being opened up for larger projects (up to to 2M) – and is likely to be extended to include / link to monitoring tools and other platforms soon. As part of MFS we have deals in place to bring over 100M of larger program’s online already (this year), so it would be valuable if we cold learn from your pilot and include those lessons when developing our (open source) software – to facilitate this space.

  2. Pingback: A call to action | Innovation in Development Cooperation

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