How do you produce and publish IATI files if you have more than a handful of projects? And if the information is spread over multiple systems? Data4Development now offers a ‘Spreadsheet to IATI service’ to help you with this.
Perhaps you recognise this:
- “We have dozens of projects; copy-pasting information into an online tool is not doable, and even preparing and uploading spreadsheets for each project is a lot of work.”
- “We have different systems for bookkeeping and for project management. And we don’t have a Monitoring and Evaluation tool yet, we use spreadsheets.”
- “Our IT supplier does not know IATI, and building exactly the right report for the system will cost a lot of money. (And what if there is a new IATI version?)”
- “We are switching IT systems and re-organising our internal structure, and the new system is not ready yet. But we still need to update our IATI data.”
- “We don’t know what’s in our IATI file and whether it is correct or not. Our tech person says it looks ok, but how can we check the data with our project staff and management to get their approval before we publish?”
If any of this sounds familiar, Data4Development has been developing a solution for these issues since the end of 2016. In May 2017, we launched the service with Woord en Daad in The Netherlands. Several organisations are now using our ‘Spreadsheet to IATI service’.
Think of the service as comparable to how you view your payroll service or your accountant: for each quarterly or monthly update, you provide the raw information, and we produce the usable data. We compile the IATI file for you, and even publish it for you if you wish.
Perhaps you have dedicated application managers who can create suitable reports from your project management system. Your bookkeeper also provides overviews of the financial situation. Finally, you have separate spreadsheets in which you keep track of your logical framework and result indicators.
You want to combine all the information in your IATI data file. And you want to know what is in the data before you publish, in order to make sure it meets the requirements of your donors, your partners, and your organisation.
To help you with this, you are looking for someone to advise you about the optimal way to structure your information. Or to help you reap the extra benefits that come from having your data available in a standard format. And you certainly don’t want to have to figure out all the details about IATI or XML yourself (and keep up with its new developments).
How it works
Data4Development focuses our services around your publication process:
1 – Your input
You provide spreadsheets with information that needs to go into your next publication: exports from your project management system or financial system; or spreadsheets maintained by your departments or programmes.
- Almost everyone in your organisation already knows how to work with spreadsheets. You can add extra information or use colours to help your staff make sense of it.
- We have standardised spreadsheet templates, and we can work with you to develop spreadsheets that work for you, based on the systems you use.
- We use ‘meta data’ in the spreadsheets resulting in uniform data regardless of how you format it for lay-out purposes.
From the start, we share a Google Drive folder with you. Just upload or synchronise your files there, and we can create an IATI file from that. Quick and simple.
2 – Turning it into IATI
We perform a transformation of your data into IATI: we combine the bits and pieces of information that can be distributed over multiple spreadsheets, and we assemble an IATI activities file from it. We also create feedback for you:
- A data quality report informs you about possible problems with the data: perhaps there are errors that make the IATI file invalid, and most likely there are ways in which you could improve the quality of information about your work.
- Data summary spreadsheets give you an overview of how much information you provide: the number of result indicators per activity, and so on.
- A presentation of each activity helps your staff check what will be published, before it is published.
- If you have an exclusion or publishing policy (for instance, organisations you don’t want to publish about for security reasons), we can add additional checks to the data quality report. (Premium service option)
- Historical overviews let you compare your new publication with the current data, giving you a summary of what is added and what has been deleted. (Option available soon)
All of this is made available through a private and secure personal website for you and your staff.
3 – Deciding whether to publish
You check the feedback. Do all the numbers add up? Or maybe a department forgot to approve new results or expenditures for publication? Are there still errors in the data?
- You can choose to go back and fix your source information. Then do another export, check with project staff, and get a sign-off from your managers.
- After you updated your spreadsheets, we perform another transformation, and the cycle continues.
Ready to publish your new data? We provide you with an error-free IATI file: all activities that still have errors are filtered out.
- At the minimum, that means your file is free from ‘IATI-technical’ errors: your data will validate according to the schema, and according to the documentation and practices established in the IATI community.
- If your donor has additional requirements, we can incorporate those. Soon the guidelines of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be completely included in our service.
- Activities with errors according to tests based on your exclusion or publication policy can be excluded as well. (Premium service option)
- We can also publish the file for you, and if you wish, manage your IATI Registry account for your organisation.
This leaves you free to focus on your work processes, reporting workflows, and information systems. We exist to help you make those processes, workflows and systems IATI-proof by producing your IATI data for you and even publishing it if you prefer.