How to Manage Development Data - Without Reinventing the Wheel!

The donors of the world invested $132 billion last year in global development projects, but most donors and implementers are still unable to account for results. And most development workers in the field still don't have the tools they deserve. The solution is not to keep trying to re-create commercially available software in-house. Some history: A few years back, before we made DevResults, we were a web development shop. Much »

The Revolution Will Not Be Open Source

Open-source software is an amazing phenomenon. But it's not the answer for international development, any more than it is in any other field. I love open-source software. I'm writing this blog post in Ghost, an open-source blogging platform, using Google Chrome, a (mostly) open-source browser built on top of the open-source Blink engine. Ghost runs on Node.js, which is also open source. The DevResults app is built using open-source »

Proposal: Towards an IATI Indicator Definition Schema

Aid transparency is not an end in itself: It is a means towards an end. Transparency leads to greater accountability, and accountability leads to greater effectiveness. The donors and others who are committing to publish data are, in effect, agreeing to be held accountable: Accountable to each other, and ultimately accountable to the citizens in the recipient countries and to the taxpayers in donor countries. The International Aid Transparency Initiative »

Proposal: Performance reporting in IATI

We're in the process of adding import and export support for the IATI XML format to DevResults. Although IATI is primarily conceived as a public transparency standard (hence the T), many organizations are beginning to see it as a promising interchange format for reporting results — either outbound reporting (to a funder, or to a home office) or inbound reporting (from a grantee or contractor). However, the IATI standard currently »

Proposal: Universal Indicator Library

There are lots of obstacles inhibiting the flow of development data. One important one is the lack of common standards for performance indicators. We would like to start just by creating a clearinghouse of existing indicator lists, and then using crowdsourcing tools to cross-reference these. Apples to apples It's difficult, even with a relatively small and self-contained universe (like a single international NGO, or a single USAID mission) to agree »

Caudill Web is now DevResults

About fifteen years ago I came home to the U.S. after several years in West Africa and started doing some freelance web development. Four years later I had more work than I could handle on my own. So in 2004 I incorporated Caudill Web. Shane Kunkle took a big chance and left the security of a big company to join me. Over the years, we grew slowly, preferring to »

Telling people what you did with their money

Three decades ago, foreign aid professionals like my father had to cobble together homemade databases in order to keep track of their work. Today, not much has changed, and practitioners in the field still lack the software tools they need to count their outputs and analyze their impact. DevResults is working to change that, by creating easy-to-use software specifically intended for monitoring and managing foreign aid programs. This is the »

Making DevResults simpler, faster, and more sociable

The engineering team here at DevResults has a lot going on right now. These are some things we're working on these days that we're really excited about. Reintroducing simplicity As more and more people have started using DevResults over the last few years, we’ve been adding more and more functionality and complexity to the site, and the cohesiveness and simplicity of the user experience has suffered as a result. »

You can't have big data without lots of little data

Data has the potential to really transform the way foreign aid is done. Better data makes it possible for donors to be transparent. It makes it possible for decisions and priorities to be evidence-based. It makes it possible to hold everyone involved more accountable. Let's go beyond the hype, though, and talk about the actual mechanics of capturing and using development data. This article is adapted from a talk that »