Indicator Guidebook

Intro to Indicators

Indicators must be precisely defined so that results can be compared between locations, reporting periods, and activities. We've studied performance data and designed DevResults to enforce indicator definitions that make data useful and meaningful.

Indicator Definitions

  • Data Source: Every indicator has one data source. This is the method by which an indicator result is added to or created in DevResults. Data Sources include Entry, Formula, and Data Table.
  • Number Format: Every indicator has one number format. Formats include: whole number, decimal, percentage, and "rate per" (such as x people per 10,000). Alternatively, an indicator can be defined with a yes/no result. An indicator cannot be "Number and percent of staff trained". Those would be two different indicators.

  • Unit: Every indicator has either one unit (or no units). The most common unit is the individual, where results are reported as "Number of people receiving services" or "Number of people tested". Examples of other units include facilities, hectares, policies, dollars, jobs, trainings, schools, or metric tons. Percentages and yes/no indicators do not have units.

  • Disaggregation: Three aspects define a disaggregation: the disaggregation, the disaggregation values, and whether the indicator is cross-disaggregated. The most common disaggregation is "sex". The disaggregation values, then, are "male, female". Another common disaggregation is "age". For "sex", the disaggregation values are clear. For "age", the categories must be defined, such as "<18, 18+", or "<1, 1-15, 15+". The same is true for any disaggregation. For example, for an indicator disaggregated by education level, disaggregation values might include: "no high school", "some high school", "high school graduate".

    • If an indicator is defined as disaggregated, you cannot report non-disaggregated totals.
    • Not defining the disaggregation values is the most common mistake in indicator definitions. For example, someone might say an indicator should be disaggregated by male, female, and age. What they mean is sex (male, female) and age (<18,18+), for example.

  • Cross-Disaggregation: Any indicator with more than one disaggregation must be defined as either parallel- or cross-disaggregated.

    • For parallel-disaggregation, the total result is reported for each disaggregation, split by its disaggregation values. The example below shows a result reported for males, females, minors, and adults.
    • For cross-disaggregated data, the disaggregation values are combined to make unique categories. The example shows a result reported for male minors, male adults, female minors, and female adults.

  • Reporting Level: The reporting level is the geographical disaggregation. Options include: administrative division (like country, region, or district), location (such as villages or construction sites), facility (such as schools or hospitals), or per individual (for example, if you were to record the annual income for every individual tracked, as opposed to recording an average income for an area or demographic).

Other Rules for Indicators

  • An indicator must have the same definition across all locations, reporting periods, and activities. For example, if one activity reports disaggregated data for an indicator and another only reports totals, these cannot be the same indicator.
  • Reported data must be given as the total results since the last time the data was reported. If data was last reported a year prior, the number reported should be the total achieved in the past year. If data was reported for the last quarter, the number reported should only be what was achieved this quarter.
  • Targets can be listed as cumulative or periodic. A cumulative target would be the goal for an activity's life of party. A periodic target would be the goal for each reporting period, whatever the length of the reporting period.
  • Reporting indicator results
  • Indicator results reported for any given indicator must conform to all aspects of that indicator's definition.
  • If an indicator is disaggregated by sex and reported at the region level, you would need the indicator results for males and females, for each reporting period, in each region (where the activity is active).
  • Historical indicator results: If your previously recorded indicator results do not conform to the indicator definition you have specified in DevResults, there are five options for how to proceed:
    • Track down the disaggregated data from its original source
    • Estimate the disaggregations for previous data (inaccurate estimates could be misleading)
    • Define previous data and future data with separate indicators (which makes it difficult to examine changes over time)
      • Note: You can add such indicators together in a formula indicator to get an overview of totals and shared disaggregations over time.
    • Re-define the indicator to fit previous data (the data is less useful when less specific)
    • Do not include any data that does not fit the indicator definition (loss of previous information and record of work)
We can help with any of these options once you've decided what will work best for your organization.
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