Digital technology planning tool to improve your solution evaluation and partner due diligence

A version of this post originally appeared on ICTworks. Reposted with permission.

Digital technology planning tool to improve your solution evaluation and partner due diligence

Over the past decade, I’ve worked with countless of organizations around the world to help them to think about how they can use digital technology more effectively and appropriately in their work.

One of the most common challenges that I’ve found is that their approach to deciding on what technologies to use and who to partner with is often more ad hoc and opportunistic than deliberate and strategic.

I don’t say this to lay blame. Particularly for organizations with limited applied experience using digital technology in their programs — as opposed to for internal IT — it can be difficult to know what questions they should be asking and what types of things they should be planning for.

As part of a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, we’ve tried to make this process a bit easier for development practitioners. We’ve developed an Excel-based digital technology planning and due diligence tool to help practitioners better plan how to use a particular digital technology in their projects and programs, as well as to provide a framework on how to conduct a basic level of due diligence on digital technology providers.

Staying true to the Principles for Digital Development, we tested a prototype of the tool with close to 20 organizations from India, Nepal, Georgia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ensure that it was meeting the needs of a diverse range of practitioners. After each round of testing, we iteratively refined the tool until we eventually got to a final (for now) version.

The planning and diligence tool is divided into three primary components:

  • Planning, which aims to help users think through how the digital technology they are thinking of using aligns with the needs of their organization, the intended users of the technology and their programmatic objectives; factors related to achieving desired scale and impact; and implementation considerations to keep in mind to increase the chances of success.
  • Due Diligence, which aims to help users assess how a potential digital technology provider aligns with the organization, user and programmatic needs.
  • Summary, which provides a dashboard look at key data points from the Planning and Due Diligence It is intended to help share findings with other colleagues who may not be interested in all of the details contained in the other two tabs.

In addition to the Excel version of the tool, we’ve also developed a PDF version that you can print out on giant A1 paper for group work and a questionnaire that you can send to potential digital technology providers to facilitate the due diligence process. You can download all three of them here.

While this tool has been developed with resilience projects in mind, it can be used across the development spectrum. Simply ignore the section on resilience if it isn’t relevant — or better yet, overwrite that section with factors linked to whatever sector you’re working in.

If you have any feedback, or if you make any content changes or translate it into another language, let us know. We’ll continue to iterate on it to improve its usefulness and we’ll also happily host your modified versions as well.

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