- Organizations working in international development increasingly have the obligation to provide independent and rigorous evidence on the outcomes of their work.
- NGOs or other development organizations that deliver services to thousands of beneficiaries/customers, also generate vast quantities of data, but this data is often of low quality and under-utilized
- Finally, the M&E departments of development organizations are often consumed by a strong emphasis on donor reporting and a limited focus on deriving actionable learnings to improve service-delivery and the impact of their initiatives.
- Through our embedded research advisory service – which directly targets development organizations, NGOs, social enterprises, and government agencies - we empower our clients to design and implement a rigorous research & learning agenda customized to their strategic, operational and informational needs.
- As part of the embedded research advisory model we provide the following services: (i) Support at the strategic design level, helping organizations design a research strategy that directly feeds into their operations, while also achieving monitoring and reporting requirements; (ii) Support at the research project design stage, helping clients design individual research projects in a way that is rigorous, pertinent, and feasible considering operational and budgetary constraints; (iii) Training at all stages of the research cycle, including training on approaches to instrument design, sampling, evaluation, data management and cleaning, coding surveys, and data analysis; (iv) Back-stopping where organizations do not have the internal capacity to deliver on their research agenda, using the Laterite network of researchers; (v) Access to a network of sector-experts, who can provide target advise on how to design a specific research intervention or implement a specific research task where in-depth sectoral knowledge is required.
- Laterite currently has an independent research team embedded in TechnoServe's Coffee East Africa programme, with the core objective of maximizing learning, improving the research function and inreasing the harmony between implementation and research.
- The project is still ongoing but to date, we have achieved: (i) better alignment of research and implementation activities; (ii) improved research design and sampling; (iii) introduced better processes and systems across four countries to improve data quality, including audit; (iv) trained TechnoServe’s M&E teams on using Stata, Survey CTO and research methods; and (v) provided ongoing technical guidance on all research outputs.
- In terms of learning, the first step has been to use existing and ongoing data collection efforts to better profile TechnoServe’s farmer-clients and how their profiles relate to their agronomy practices.
- In the future, our efforts will focus on: (i) expanding the service to new TechnoServe programmes in Zimbabwe, Uganda and DRC; (ii) consolidating all of TechnoServe’s historic data from coffee farmers into a master database, to generate new insights about agronomy practices across countries and over time; and (iii) together with TechnoServe test new approaches to ensure that research and data increasingly feeds-in to operations.