Picking a technology tool is only a small part of a project – but getting the right one can make a crucial difference. With partners in Kenya and South Africa, we led a two-year research study investigating how transparency and accountability projects choose technology, and identifying strategies that could make a difference to projects’ success.
Identifying the need
More and more research is being done on what makes transparency and accountability projects likely to succeed. Meanwhile, organisations are increasingly making technology tools central to their project strategies. But there’s relatively little evidence showing how those technology tools get chosen, and even less to suggest whether some selection processes are more effective than others.
We wanted to start collecting this evidence. We’ve seen through our direct support work how important tool selection can be: a tool that does exactly what an organisation needs can significantly increase a project’s impact, while picking the wrong one can waste valuable time and resources. We wanted to find out how organisations approached their decisions, and whether it affected their projects.
The right tool for the job
So, we partnered with Mtaani Initiative at Pawa254 in Nairobi and the Network Society Lab at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, to design an in-depth comparative research project supported by Making All Voices Count. We wanted to draw out common problems and solutions that would help organisations, funders and support organisations’ planning, as well as trying to create practical resources that could help support that process.