Project databases make data accessible for timely and efficient decision-making
The database should be user-friendly for both data enterers and data analysts by
ensuring that the data entry and analysis processes are as simple and
straightforward as possible. To be user-friendly for data enterers, the database
should have clear labels and numbers for each variable. This will minimize data
entry error and ultimately reduce the amount of time required for data entry and
cleaning. The database design also should be as simple as possible to conduct the
necessary calculations and analysis. Refer to Annex C for guidance on creating the
Make sure you determine how to utilize your data and to transform your data into
information prior to developing your database. Refer to your M&E plan. Without a
clear plan for data use, it is likely that your database will be overly complex. Complex
databases are less likely to be used.
Provide in-depth training and practice sessions for data enterers prior to the start of
the data entry process. The practice sessions are a good opportunity to conduct a final review of the database and catch any remaining gaps or errors in its format. Refer to
Data Entry and Cleaning for more information on training data enterers.
Results must be timely for M&E information to feed into project management and
learning. Ensure that the database allows for an efficient data entry, cleaning and
analysis process and, by design, will not result in bottlenecks due to complexity or
Include instructions for using the database in your M&E operations manual,
explaining all variables, functions and calculations in such a way that new staff can
easily understand and utilize the database. Also, document the data entry and
cleaning process so that it may be externally validated.
Prepare for an audit at the outset of your project by documenting all processes and
systems. Not only will this help you to prepare for an audit (if an audit should occur),
but project staff will benefit throughout the life of the project by being able to
reference clear instructions and records of initial decisions and plans that were made.
Additional guidance for monitoring databases:
1. Check with other staff in your country program to see if there are wellfunctioning and efficient monitoring databases currently in use. If the structure of
this database is appropriate for your program, use the database format as a
2. Design monitoring databases to create summary sheets or to allow staff to run
simple calculations to produce these summaries. Depending on your monitoring
plan, the data may be summarized in multiple ways including by month, region
and type of community.
3. Revisit your monitoring database at the project midterm (or after multiple data
entry sessions) to determine if there are any ways to simplify the database or
make it more user-friendly. To guide this review, refer to questions in Appendix
II under Step 6 of the monitoring system review tool.