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The Value of Digital Data Gathering | CoLab Community

The Value of Digital Data Gathering

The Value of Digital Data Gathering

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Advances in technology have brought with it certain advantages both to organizational as well as program monitoring and evaluation. Digital data gathering (DDG) is the process of collecting data electronically through the use of existing technology such as web browsers, smart phones and tablets for data collection. 

The value of using digital data gathering includes: 

1. Data Quality

Digital data collection ensures strict data collection measures are enforced, an important feature to control data quality.

Several restrictions can be enforced including: 

  • Routing also known as Skip Logic -E.g.  If a response to a previous question is yes it can show or hide a question making it faster for a respondent to answer relevant questions only
  • Entry Limits - It is possible to restrict entries, by having minimum and maximum values. For example when taking the ages of children in a survey, say for Children between 0 and 5 months, one can restrict age entry to a maximum of 5. Any entry above 5 is therefore rejected. 
  • Type Questions - There are numeric entries, alpha-numeric entries, and date entries, among other types. Digital data gathering ensures that entries are limited to their type, so you don't have a text response for a numeric question, for example. Researchers are able to control such things as date formats, such as DD/MM/YYYY or MM/DD/YY etc. 
  • Optional vs Mandatory Questions - For digital data collection, a researcher has control over whether a question is mandatory or optional. In this case, he/she does not miss responses for questions that are considered essential for the survey.

In short, using technology for data collection helps to eliminate data collection and entry related errors as much as possible. This means that the data available for analysis is usually pretty clean and ready for analysis.

2. Time

Using Digital Data Gathering can be quite time saving to a project.

  • Time for data entry is usually cut out completely, which depending on the number of surveys, can be quite time consuming.
  • If a project constantly experiences time constraints, especially for its monitoring and evaluation activities, then digital data gathering may be the way to go.
  • Even for organizations that do not collect large scale data, in the short term, it might not appear as though a lot of time is spent on data entry. However, over a longer period, data entry does consume a lot of time.

One day of data entry a month translates into twelve days in a year. For a five year development program, that would translate into 60 days (two months) of data entry.

3. Short term and Long term costs

In close association with time saving, digital data gathering saves on data entry costs.

  • Data entry costs are a short term cost that an organization is able to save on for adopting digital data collection.
  • Even when there are no direct costs associated with data entry, plenty of personnel time is saved when using Digital Data Gathering in the long run.
  • Longer term costs include the costs of printing questionnaires, purchasing stationary for data entry among others. Printing and stationary costs, for example, may constitute a large proportion of monitoring and evaluation budgets

Part 2 coming soon

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