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Responsible data management toolbox

4.1 Study on training capacities


Improving program data management training capacities

Why be interested in training in program data management?

In its study “Program data: the silver bullet of the humanitarian and development sectors? Panorama of the practices and needs of francophone CSOs”, published in September 2020, CartONG noted that “according to [the professionals interviewed], less than a quarter of the people in charge of information management within their Civil Society Organization (CSO) have all or part of the skills required for the positions they hold”, implying “gaps in the teams in charge of information management of different types: methodological, technical and strategic. Those most pronounced are in assisting with the selection of technical solutions, data protection, the ability to train colleagues, database design and management, and, finally, data analysis.”

For these reasons, CartONG began a reflection on useful program data management skills. First, by attempting to structure different skill sets, as presented in the “HR Pack” in Program Data Management for international development CSOs. This tool is intended to provide methodological support to international development CSOs, through a formal identification of associated HR skills and the provision of practical tools to facilitate the organization, recruitment and training on the subject.

By studying the obstacles to capacity building among professionals in the sector, this study focuses on the way in which they are currently trained in order to provide recommendations to CSOs, training institutes, French higher education institutions and, directly, to international solidarity professionals to initiate and encourage a global capacity building in the sector on this topic.

As a reminder Program data management applies to all levels of an organization (headquarters, coordination, management, operational & support).

In summary, this study highlights that:

Having teams trained in program data management is now essential for CSOs to ensure quality analysis and support operational decisions, but also to help and protect vulnerable populations by ensuring responsible management of their data. For this to happen, the international solidarity sector must generalize a real “data culture”.

How can this be done? It is a matter of:

  • Strengthening the skills of the entire sector, by raising awareness of basic issues among all profiles.
  • Adjusting the training offer to a wide range of needs: generalist training and technical training adapted to various profiles. Today, there is a dichotomy between what actors want (mastering tools and techniques) and what is useful in their work and for the international solidarity sector (critical perspective on data management and use).
  • Develop training content and methods that ensure easy learning for all: adapted to the international solidarity, in the working languages of the sector, valuing the experience acquired through practice.

But improving the training offer alone will not strengthen the data culture.

  • This must also be part of a structuring of CSOs on these subjects: strategic framework, human resources …
  • … which can only be done if donors also take up the subject to support the efforts of CSOs.

Attention points

Within the framework of this study, we were faced with a diversity of profiles and situations (headquarters, field, various contexts, field implementation team or managers, nationals or expatriates). Beyond the general trends, it is difficult to analyze the needs, difficulties and specificities of each profile, especially for national staff for whom a much larger scale study would have been necessary.

This study is available here (in French only).