Tablet App for NGO War Child Streamlines Field Reporting for Project Officers in Uganda

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Mendix teamed up with its partner, Mansystems, to deliver a mobile application for field-based project officers working for War Child in Uganda to report, in real time, on the progress of their interventions, which focus on empowering children and young people affected by conflict in Northern Uganda.

  • Dozens of field workers use tablet computers to access the Indicator Progress Card (IPC) application through the cloud
  • Replaces cumbersome Microsoft Excel spreadsheets – and even handwritten reports
  • Created through agile SCRUM process by Mansystems and Mendix on a pro bono basis

Challenge

After decades of war, conflict, and brutal oppression at the hands of dictator Idi Amin and rebel leader Joseph Kony, a new generation of young people in Uganda are rebuilding and reclaiming their lives. Thanks to a range of social services and programs from War Child, children and young people in the war-torn country are now re-emerging to learn life skills, vocational skills, and entrepreneurial skills and receive education, protection, and psychosocial support.

Mendix's application platform is making a big difference in our mission. Now, as a result of the app, we’re more productive doing the things that matter – helping children and young people.

Ernst Suur

Program Development Advisor, War Child

But the lack of any automated infrastructure behind these programs in Uganda was a serious obstacle. In particular, data collection and reporting on the various activities and programs was trapped in manual paper or Excel spreadsheets that were completed intermittently at best and that required significant time from project officers who preferred to work with children and young people, not paperwork.

According to Ernst Suur, program development advisor, field reports – so vital to demonstrating measurable progress and securing continued funding from donors – were a time-consuming headache. “We had many project officers in remote areas of Uganda who were filling out reports on paper,” he said. “It wasn’t uncommon for those reports to get rained on, eaten by mice, or lost. And moving to Excel wasn’t a big improvement because of the difficult interface and the challenges of using a PC in remote areas.”

Solution

Investments in Uganda’s telecom infrastructure mean connectivity and Internet access are spreading. Suur met Arnold Zwart from Mansystems who proposed building a mobile app for project officers to access from popular tablets. To give this initiative greater emphasis, Zwart and his wife formed Flock of Birds, a social enterprise aimed at distributing solutions to NGOs in the African region. “Arnold explained how it would be easy to develop this application and convinced me that his company could improve our operations.”

Mansystems then turned to Mendix's application platform to create the Indicator Process Card (IPC) application. IPCs are scorecards that assess outcome indicators at all stages of War Child‘s activities in Uganda. The scores help to determine the impact of programs and provide information on other key indicators. This tool has been modernized into an online application that helps War Child’s field staff to deliver quality data with increased efficiency by using an online database for monitoring and evaluation on a tablet computer. During, or directly after an activity, field staff upload data from the tablet. The IPC database operates on virtually any standard computer device and is accessible anywhere at any time. Through the IPC application, evaluating becomes a simple and intuitive task. Moreover, the process leaves less room for errors and saves valuable time as compared to paper documentation.

Results

“People like reporting now,” said Suur. “War Child can now track data on the behavior of children and young people in our programs. We can see different milestones – pre- and post-intervention and see how lives are improving. That’s very motivating to the team and critical to keep the continued support of our donors.

“Mendix and Mansystems were very helpful in bringing our vision of an easy-to-use, mobile application to life. We collaborated very closely on every screen, button, text balloon, popup, and icon. This close interaction and the flexibility of Mendix's platform enabled us to replicate our desired process very easily – how we open and close activities and all of the steps, tasks, and activities that the project officers do.

“Now, our project officers feel empowered, not burdened. Instead of spending hours to write reports that might take weeks to reach our headquarters, we have dozens of project officers in remote Uganda locations using it almost every day to update their data. Not everyone on our team is Western-educated, so the simplicity of the app is very important.

“The simplicity and speed of building and deploying an app with Mendix is really the only way an NGO such as War Child can keep administrative costs at a minimum and maximize the impact of donors. Mendix's platform is making a big difference in our programs. Now, as a result of the app, we’re more productive doing the things that matter – helping children and young people.”

In the next phase, Flock of Birds and War Child will present the IPC app at e-Learning Africa in Namibia as part of a broader initiative to bring the app to numerous NGOs.

About War Child Holland

Established in 1993, War Child is a non-governmental organization dedicated to helping children and young people in war-torn regions gain access to life skills, education, social services, protection, and more through programs that help them reclaim and rebuild their lives. The NGO operates in dozens of areas from Afghanistan to Colombia to help counteract the devastating effects of war on children and young people and break the cycle of violence. Visit www.warchild.org.

About Mansystems

For 20 years, Mansystems has specialized in integrated solutions for IT service organizations. Its extensive experience in service management, ITIL software, consultancy, and support is complemented by deep knowledge of customers and markets. Consequently, Mansystems has an impressive international track record with a variety of leading customers in various sectors and locations. For more information: www.mansystems.com.