“There is a range of monitoring and evaluation software tools for NGOs to help streamline their M&E. From simplifying the data collection process to matching up project ideas with the most relevant metrics for tracking, discover Arqaam’s favourite M&E software tools.”
NGO monitoring and evaluation are crucial components of the project cycle. That’s why there is a range of monitoring and evaluation software tools for NGOs.
However, monitoring and evaluation have not always been recognised as crucial components of the project cycle. But in recent decades, this has started to shift. The sector has gradually realised the many benefits both the monitoring and evaluation processes offer development projects. From promoting data-driven decision-making to effective performance management and resource allocation, you would be hard-pressed to find an NGO project that didn’t have some kind of monitoring or evaluation process in place today.
Unfortunately, M&E processes are often under-funded and data-heavy. Often, donors do not provide adequate funding for M&E, preferring to fund implementation only. Organising, sorting and sifting through data is incredibly time-consuming. As a result, M&E are often under-resourced or not prioritised.
Technology can help.
There is a range of monitoring and evaluation software tools for NGOs to help streamline their M&E. From simplifying the data collection process to matching up project ideas with the most relevant metrics for tracking, there is a whole world of software out there that NGOs can adapt.
Here at Arqaam, we don’t believe technology is a panacea. Importantly, we do believe that, if used correctly, technology has the potential to streamline systems, efficiently perform ROTE tasks and inform decision-making.
Arqaam’s top monitoring and evaluation software tools for NGOs
We’ve compiled this short list of software tools that Arqaam staff regularly use with our clients. From KoBoToolbox to Logframe Labs, we have used these programs to streamline and improve our M&E processes. As a result, we think they are the top monitoring and evaluation software tools for NGOs
Similarly, if your organisation is looking for ways to improve M&E, why not explore some new software tools? You might find they are useful and, as a result, incorporate them into your M&E processes.
To clarify, Arqaam is not earning any money from this post or the following recommendations. Therefore we are simply sharing these software tool recommendations because we have used them in our own work and have found them genuinely helpful. We hope you find them helpful too!
KoBoToolbox is an open-source mobile data-collection tool designed for use in challenging contexts. It’s popular amongst humanitarian and development organisations, as well as aid workers and researchers working in the field. The software program allows users to collect field data on mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, as well as webforms (using Enketo) by sending out a link.
There are myriad reasons to consider incorporating KoBoToolbox into your M&E software arsenal. Firstly, the interface is user-friendly – users do not need a coding background to make the most of all the features.
Secondly, the software works both on and offline. This is particularly useful for field staff, as they may not always have access to mobile data or the internet while they are travelling or working in the field.
Thirdly, KoBoToolbox provides data analysis and visualisation in real-time. As a result, staff can observe trends as soon as the data is loaded into the program, saving time manually loading the data into graphs and other visual representations. Consequently, staff can immediately access reports and charts and disaggregate data as needed. Plus, the data can also be exported to Excel or other statistical software, such as PowerBI, for further analysis.
The best part? KoBoToolbox is free!
If you want to learn more about KoBoToolbox, check out Arqaam’s free KoBoToolbox cheat sheets.
2) Open Data Kit
While it is not a software program, we’ve decided to include Open Data Kit (ODK) in this post because Arqaam staff regularly use it and have found it helpful. ODK is a framework. You can use it as part of KoboToolBox.
An open data mobile collection platform, Open Data Kit is popular among humanitarian and development organisations for a similar reason to KoboToolbox – staff can use it anywhere. For example, the World Health Organisation uses Open Data Kit for COVID-19 field surveillance, while the Jane Goodall Institute uses it to track the health of chimpanzee populations across Africa. Users can gather data and fill out forms offline which are then transferred to a server when an internet connection is located.
Users can build powerful forms which can cater everything from photos and GPS locations to external datasets and skip logic. Similarly to KoBoToolbox, users can upload data to apps like Excel or PowerBI.
As part of the OKD suite, Open Data Kit Collect is an open-source Android app that replaces physical paper forms often used in survey-based data collection. Similarly to KoBoToolbox and the original ODK, Open Data Kit Collect works well without access to network connectivity and supports a wide range of question and answer types.
ODK Collect renders forms into a sequence of input prompts that apply form logic, entry constraints, and repeating sub-structures. Users work through the prompts and can save the submission at any point. Finalised submissions can be sent to (and new forms downloaded from) a server or through a computer if access to the internet is limited or unavailable.
For more information about Open Data Kit and Open Data Collect, check out our free cheat sheets.
XLSForm is a user-friendly program that allows staff to create surveys and forms for Open Data Kit (ODK) based applications. These include ODK Central, CommCare, KoBoToolBox and many others. XLSForm uses Microsoft Excel as a base to develop forms and surveys that are easy to understand and easy to use.
XLSForm lets users author forms with complex functionalities across a number of web and data collection platforms, However it also also remaining easy for users to make changes to survey forms as needed.
For more information about XLSForm, check out our free cheat sheets.
4) Logframe Labs
Developed by our team at Arqaam, Logframe Labs is a free, open-source monitoring and evaluation tool. It helps NGOs match project ideas with the most relevant metrics for tracking their success.
Logframes are flawed but necessary tools. Often reduced to a tick-the-box activity required of NGOs by donors, logframes can be tedious and time-consuming. However, logframes are important elements of the project cycle, particularly in relation to monitoring and evaluation processes.
The goal of Logframe Labs is to reduce the time and resources NGOs, particularly smaller NGOs without access to many resources or much funding, spend building logframes. Consequently, we designed this tool to make the process simple. As a result, it does a lot of the heavy lifting.
For more information about Logframe Labs, check out this quick explainer video.
Incorporating software into your monitoring and evaluation
Incorporating new processes into the project cycle can be daunting. However, incorporating unfamiliar software into your monitoring and evaluation processes might seem downright risky.
However, you don’t have to fear. We’re here to help.
If you’re unsure of which software programs might be best suited to the needs of your organisation, or if your organisation requires training, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Arqaam. We offer a pro-bono M&E Capacity Support Program and we have a range of free resources that might help you. For more information, or to apply to the program, email send an email to info [at] arqaam [dot] io.
For more information about how we collect and store data, see our Data Collection and Cookies Policy page.