Eight Criteria for Selecting Monitoring Software

Robert Heine's picture

This checklist will help you to find the monitoring software that caters best to your program needs and requirements. It is based on our experience in advising development programs on monitoring and evaluation processes and systems.


1 Features

For which step in the monitoring process do you need the software? Reflect on your feature requirements for data collection, data processing or management, the level of aggregation and on features for data output to support reporting and learning. Check what kind of data, quantitative or qualitative, can be handled by the system. Also consider whether functions such as offline operability, dashboards or data import and export are relevant for you.

2 User-friendliness

The structure of the software must be intuitively understandable for the users. The users should be able to find and edit/update their projects, indicators etc. without any problems. Furthermore, the creation of projects, indicators, logframes etc. should be intuitive. In the best case, the software should also be usable without training.

3 Support

Support is crucial for the sustained success of a software application. Users must get support when problems occur. Since no software is free of so-called "bugs", the provider must react on time.

4 Cost

What costs can be incurred? Consider: Is there an off-the -shelf software for a fixed price or does the software has to be customized first? Is it an open source solution without license fees or are regular license fees due? How high are the running costs, are you charged per user? Is there a cost associated with support or training?

5 Data protection

The software must/should comply with the guidelines on data protection in your country. For Europe it’s the GDPR, which for example requires that the user data is stored in encrypted form on servers in Europe.

6 Data security

Data backup is an indispensable aspect. There should be a multi-level automated backup system. In addition, recovery tests should be performed to test the functioning of the backups. Security updates of the software and regular maintenance of the servers are standard, but should still be checked.

7 CO2 Balance

Although many server and software providers host their software climate-neutrally, it is not yet a set standard.  

8 Principles for Digital Development

These principles developed by the UN consist of nine guidelines that are designed to help use digital technologies in development cooperation projects more efficiently, effectively and sustainably. When identifying the software or a provider, one could also consider whether these principles are taken into account (https://digitalprinciples.org/).