Syllabus

 

Starting date:  February 5th 2021

Ending  date:  March 12th 2021

 

 

Instructor

 

Name of instructor:    Hugh Allen, CEO, VSL Associates

E-Mail address:         Hugh@vsla.net

Skype:                       hugh_allen

 

Webpages:                www.vsla.net                  VSL Associates main website, containing all tools

                                  www.thesavix.org           Provides worldwide, regional, sub-regional dashboards (under construction)

                                  mis.thesavix.org             The main MIS portal

 

1.  Background to the SAVIX MIS

When Savings Groups started out, pioneered by CARE in Niger in 1991, very little was done to quantify results, mainly because programmes were experimental, small and informally assessed.  After testing in several countries and proving its worth and sustainability, the VSLA Savings Group methodology was adopted by many INGOs, operating at much larger scale. These programmes were concerned to be cost effective and needed to measure results.

 

Over the following 20 years specialised Excel tools were developed by Chuck Waterfield and VSL Associates to track performance, but as programmes reached very large scale (with many thousands of groups), operating across a wide variety of sectors and sometimes in networks, it became necessary to move to a web-server solution, and in 2013 VSL Associates and Software Group created the SAVIX MIS.  The current version (2.01) went live in April of 2018.  Taken together, the MIS reports on the activities of nearly 600,000 groups worldwide, covering more than 13 million members, in more than 3,830 projects, in more than 1,300 MIS instances.  More than 800 organisations are now using the SAVIX MIS

 

The benefits of moving to an online system were:

  • The system cannot be corrupted by its user 
  • It allows for aggregation and comparison of projects within organisations and across organisations, both within a given country or across multiple countries
  • All reports are real time and updated immediately
  • Data can be entered by different authorised users within a single project, in multiple location
  • In addition to standard data, user-defined data can be captured and analyse
  • Reports can be accessed by external audiences through use of dedicated credentials that allow for review without the risk of interference with data
  • Results can automatically be posted to the SAVIX desktop (www.thesavix.org) in the public domain and are updated in real time

The face-to-face course we previously offered has been run in 5 different countries in Africa for the last several years, and the online course follows much the same curriculum, which is designed with the expectation that, upon completion, a user will be able to set up and manage a national MIS for SGs and will know, when needed, how to create networks of projects that encompass multiple MIS instances.

While a face-to-face course enables more rapid interaction between trainer and students, we have designed the online course to be comprised of classroom seminars, followed up with exercises and as-needed individual instruction scheduled one-on-one to cover MIS setup and data entry.

 

2.  Prerequisites

  • At least one year’s experience working with savings groups and member-owned models, with a special responsibility for performance measurement
  • Background in data management and analysis.

3.  Learning Outcomes

 

By the completion of this course, individual participants will:

  • be able to design an appropriate architecture for the MIS adapted to organisational structure, organisational information needs and the needs of external audiences
  • assemble the necessary data to allow the system to be set up
  • be able to set up an MIS and multiple project
  • understand, collect and clean data
  • configure reports
  • analyse results, as managers, supervisors and field staff
  • create and maintain networks of projects, as necessary

4.  Modules

The course is based around the SAVIX MIS Project Administrators’ User Guide 2.01 in English (see the ‘Tools’ section of the main website), and the curriculum tracks the steps in the manual, from Chapters 1-8. Thus, each module will need students to review the section of the manual that will be sent to them as background reading

Each module will start with a Webinar in which the objectives of the module will be set out and will involve a mixture of

  • webinars that will take place at specific dates in real time (but will also be recorded)
  • graded assignments based on the module’s main theme and the webinars

The modules have the following content

Module 1: Introduction to the course: Friday 5th February 2021

This webinar explains the structure of the course in detail, covers the use of discussions and assignments and the marking scheme used.  It also introduces the three instructors and how they will support students during the course.

Module 2:  What is an MIS and how do you decide on its architecture? Monday 8th February 2021

 

This will help you to select a system architecture for your MIS that takes into account who will be running the MIS (development agency supporting partners or the partners themselves); how geographically dispersed a project may be; where data is entered and how the need for non-standard data will have an impact on the number of MIS instances that you may need to create,

 

Module 3:  Setting up an MIS and creating projects  Friday 12th February 2021

 

This module will take you through the entire setup process of the MIS and its projects.  It lists the information needed to complete the setup at different levels (MIS and Project) and the roles of the MIS Administrator, Project Administrator and Data Entry Officers.  In this module you will set up your own MIS, based on a standard project profile that we have created.  Setup will be shown in a webinar with individual, separately scheduled assistance to ensure correct completion.

Module 4:  Data definitions, data collection, review and entry  Wednesday 17th February 2021

 

This module looks at the data that is needed in order to use the MIS.  This is divided into:

  • Static data (collected only once, when an SG is created),
  • Cycle data (collected only at the start of the operating cycle, usually annually)
  • Standard data that is always collected on monitoring visits (usually 5 in a year, spaced 3-months apart). 

It demonstrates how the data collection process itself measures profitability in the field, reported to the individual group, before entry into the system.  It also covers the creation of User-defined fields, which fall into two categories (fixed, pre-defined by the system and those independently created by the user). 

Module 5: Report preparation, analysis and application   Tuesday 23rd February 2021

 

This module covers the preparation and interpretation of reports at three levels:

  • Project level
    • Project performance reports: these are 3 synthesised reports aimed at senior management and external stakeholders
    • Operational reports: these are designed to compare Trainer effectiveness and efficiency in order to improve group quality and project cost-effectiveness
  • MIS level. Project aggregation and Project comparison.  These are reports that are used by programme management to aggregate and compare all of the projects within a single MIS, within a single country
  • Network level.  These are similar to MIS level reports but they allow for the comparison and aggregation of projects in different MIS instances, which may also be from different organisations, and even in different countries.  They are denominated in $US

The module covers the preparation of these reports and their application to operational planning, the measurement of programme and project progress and to future project planning

Module 6: Setting up networks of projects and reviewing supplemental utilities  Tuesday 2nd March 2021

This module covers the establishment of Networks of projects that originate in different MIS instances and which may be from different organisations and in different countries.  It also covers miscellaneous utilities that were not covered in the earlier modules.

Graduation: Friday 12th March 2021