SPRING helped girls stay safe, learn, earn, save and improve their health and wellbeing. The programme supported businesses by providing expertise in growth, human-centred design (HCD), innovation, marketing and investment readiness. As evaluators we measured both the impact of the programme on the lives of girls, as well as impact of the programme on the businesses. In the latter case, capturing and understanding the impact cut across the different areas of expertise, improving business understanding of girls’ needs, the appropriateness of the intervention, and ability to make strategic decisions. In this article, Eileen Lambourne and Gordon Freer share three key insights into effective impact measurement gained through their work with SPRING businesses:
- Revenue data was clear but there was less clarity on beneficiaries
At the beginning of their participation in the SPRING programme, businesses understood their revenue better than they understood their clients. Their data regarding costs, revenue, and turnover far exceeded any data related to the beneficiaries, and the beneficiaries’ experience of the business prototype. By helping businesses extend the same rigour to their beneficiary data collection that they applied to their revenue data, it enabled businesses to gather a deeper insight into their target market, and strengthened their ability to make good strategic decisions based on an informed knowledge of what was working and what was not quite hitting the mark.
- A HCD approach complemented, validated and reinforced the Theory of Change
SPRING supported businesses to apply HCD in designing their intervention. Originally an Information Technology (IT) systems design method, in the SPRING context, the HCD approach built off a need to understand the beneficiary perspective and, drawing on this data, then design the appropriate product or service solution. Each business had a Theory of Change (ToC). The ToC captured the business’ understanding of how their intervention would work to create change. Subsequent refinement of the theory often drew on the business’ HCD data and analysis. HCD therefore contributed not only to the design of the businesses prototype, but also to the business’ understanding of and approach to their impact.
- Understanding what ‘change’ meant enabled businesses to identify it in their practice
When we measured businesses’ results, as external observers, we often saw that businesses missed opportunities to fully capture or report on results that demonstrated their impact. Businesses engaging in service provision did not fully understand change and were not tasked with identifying instances of it. For example, businesses that provided online advice regularly missed the opportunity to collect data and report on behaviour change as a result of their advice. SPRING trained businesses’ staff who were dealing with beneficiaries directly, to better understand the ToC and appreciate the purpose of the prototype, and flag events and beneficiary interactions for further investigation regarding their impact change.
These three insights above demonstrate that impact measurement is within easy reach of every business if properly understood and conceptualised. The key is to convey the importance of impact measurement in improving business effectiveness, efficiency and strategy, so businesses will take gather relevant and appropriate data that will demonstrate their results.
If you are interested in learning more about the impact pathways of SPRING interventions, you can read our impact evaluation reports here.