You only have to turn on the news or check your online feed to hear how important (and pervasive) data is in our lives today. In our technologically engaged world, collecting and analysing data is becoming increasingly important and complex.
For smaller social organisations, the scale of what’s required - and what’s possible - can seem overwhelming. Many are not sure where to start and most don’t have the funding to employ data scientists or specialists. As data tools become ever more complex, even the first step - deciding what to measure - can be a barrier to action.
In addition, local, state and federal governments are upping the ante when it comes to funding evidence-based programs, especially in sectors such as mental health, aged care and disability that are moving away from block funding. Every organisation is expected to demonstrate the community impact and tangible community outcomes in order to receive funding. We also know how important it is for social organisations to measure their impact, improve performance and to have confidence that their programs and services are making a difference.
A better way to manage data and gain insights
One effective way to support your organisation to use and analyse data better is to establish a data partnership with a specialist data and social impact team. Working with such a team will help you identify what data you should collect and how to analyse and report on that data for improved effectiveness. This then allows you to build a deeper understanding - both internally and externally - of the impact of your services and programs. Funding applications become more robust and, more importantly, the long-term outcomes for marginalised and disadvantaged cohorts are improved.
Social sector data specialists provide insight gained from years of data management, and they bring sophisticated data analysis tools and programs. Outsourcing data analysis and reporting to a team like Latitude Network also gives you greater flexibility than hiring an internal data specialist. Through a relationship with Latitude Network, you’ll have access to a team of experts, rather than a single staff member who may not have all the skills and experience you need. Over time, not only will you spend less, but you’ll also have the confidence that your data analysis is reliable and up-to-date with the newest developments in systems design and machine learning.
This is not to say that you should outsource all your data work and we would work with you to identify those elements that should remain ‘in-house’. Typically we would recommend that IT and CMS procurement, financial accounting and reporting and HR system management and reporting are done by the relevant internal staff.
The tasks you can consider contracting through a data partnership include technical database expertise, data analysis tools, reporting design, data culture training and outcomes reporting. A data partnership will provide you with a suite of supports, tangible outcomes and data management systems that you and your staff can use, as well as reports that demonstrate your organisation’s impact in the community. The data partner then becomes accountable for the quality of data and reports, and ensuring the right people get access to the right data at the right time.