The SAVIX MIS online training

 

In the last 6 years, working with the Carsey School of Public Policy's Small and Microenterprise Development Program, VSL Associates has conducted twice-yearly training courses in 5 African countries in the use of the SAVIX MIS: the most commonly used system for tracking SG projects.

 
With Covid-19 keeping many people stuck at home at the moment and unable to get out into the field, this can be a good opportunity to do some valuable skills development. By moving the course online, we have managed to reduce the costs, which we hope will allow many more to benefit.  This has enabled us to schedule 4 courses a year, at a much lower cost per student.

 

The one-month (5 week) course is comprised of 6 modules, which calls for participation in a total of 10 webinars, with students completing set assignments before the next webinar and participating in discussions.  Each participant will create a practice MIS, enter data and produce and interpret reports, as well as learn how to set up national and international networks and be able to use it as their principal management and operational reporting tool.

 

Our  fourth online course this year will be conducted in English and will begin on Friday 25th June 2021 and end on the 30th June. The full syllabus can be found here.

  

The cost will be $750 per participant, paid in advance through a bank transfer.

 

Please complete an online application form, then click on 'Send.'  This will automatically be transmitted to our event support partner, Blue Case Management, who handle the registration and take payments.  Once your application is received Blue Case Management will contact you to discuss next steps.

 

Inquiries related to content should be directed to hugh@vsla.net

 

 

Course syllabus

1.       Background to the SAVIX MIS

 

Savings Groups (SGs) have been around a very long time, certainly pre-dating INGO involvement and the support of donors. Since 1991, in Niger, where CARE created what is believed to be the first SG programme (Mata Masu Dubara – or Women on the Move), the development industry has been deeply involved in their promotion and, using one SG methodology or another, have trained at least 18 million people in more than 750,000 groups in more than 77 countries. What development professionals brought to a pre-existing informal base was a strong focus on institutional capacity building, transparent and standardized procedures and record-keeping of increasing simplicity. This sharply reduced the incidence of loss and fraud and SGs are now a trusted and significant part of the financial infrastructure, able to deliver flexible, safe and profitable financial services to the very poor, including remote rural areas. They are also integrated more and more as a cross-sectoral methodology into other interventions offered by local and international NGOs.

 

At the start, very little effort was made to quantify results, mainly because programmes were experimental and were not trusted to deliver sustainability and scale, but after testing in several countries, many INGOs adopted the SG methodology, aiming for large scale, cost effectiveness and, most important of all, the means to measure efficiency and effectiveness.

 

Over the following 16 years specialized Excel tools were developed to track performance, but as programmes reached very large scale (with many thousands of groups) and operated across a wide variety of sectors, 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 (2.0) went live in April of 2018. Taken together, the MIS reports on the activities of half a million groups worldwide, covering more than 13 million members, organised in more than 4,500 projects in more than 1,500 MIS instances worldwide (77 countries).

 

The benefits of moving to an online system are:

 

  • The system cannot be corrupted by its users
  • 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 locations
  • In addition to standard data, user-defined data can be captured and analysed
  •  Reports can be accessed by external audiences through use of dedicated credentials that allow for review without the risk of interference with data

 

The course we are offering has been run in 5 different countries in Africa for the last several years, and the online course (now the third in the series, offered every quarter, follows a similar curriculum, but with a greater emphasis on discussions and assignments, to ensure full participation. It is designed so that a participant will be able to set up and manage a national MIS for SGs and will know how to create networks of projects that encompass multiple MIS instances. 

 

 

 

2.       Prerequisites

 

·        At least one year's experience on working closely with savings groups

 

·        Background in data collection. management and analysis

 

·        High-quality and reliable internet connection

 

·        Capable computer, recently serviced/defragmented

 

·        Zoom account

 

·        Dropbox account

 

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 multiple MIS instances and multiple projects, within each MIS instance
  • Be able to create networks of projects in other MIS instances and across different countries
  • Be able to understand, collect and clean data
  • Enter data
  • Configure reports
  • Analyse results as Network Administrators, MIS Administrators, Project Administrators, Supervisors and field staff

 

4.       Modular structure of the course

 

The course is based around the SAVIX MIS Users’ Manual 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 and available to you on Dropbox). Attendance and participation are graded Webinars contribute 20% of your total mark
  • discussions that will be moderated and graded. Discussions contribute 20% of your total marks.
  • assignments based on the module’s main theme and the webinars. Assignments contribute 60% of your total marks.

 

 The number of webinars, discussions and assignments will vary from module to module as below:

 

  Figure 1

 

Activity

Module 1

Module 2

Module 3

Module 4

Module 5

Module 6

Webinars

1

1

1

2

2

2

Discussions

 

1

1

1

2

1

Assignments

 

1

1

1

2

1

 

 

 

Each module will take between 5 and 7 days to complete before the next is introduced, which will allow students to work at their own pace.  This allows the course to be completed in about 5 weeks the course can be completed in just over 5 weeks. The expected level of effort is roughly 5-10 hours per week.

 

5.       Course outline, by module

 

Each module begins with a webinar in which the key subject matter is covered. This is followed over the next 3 – 4 days with at least one assignment and discussion. See Figure 1 for a list of the assignments and discussions that will take place.

 

Each module will be accompanied by a power point presentation and by parts of the training manual that cover the module content. These will be built up on Dropbox after every webinar.  A recording of the webinars will be posted on the day following the relevant webinar

 

5.1     Module 1:  Pre-Course (present to 24th June 2021)

 

  • Registration, getting participants set up with passwords and registered on Zoom
  • Introductions, expectations, contributions
  • Online adult learning approach

 

Participants must also complete a pre-course self-assessment that will act as a baseline for comparison with a similar survey at the end of the course, upon which certification will be dependent. The purpose of the first Zoom meeting on the 19th February is to test and configure the Zoom class. It will include a briefing on how exercises and discussions will be handled.

 

 

 

Webinar 1 at 1000 German time on Friday 25th June 2021

 

5.2       Module 2:  What is an MIS and how do you decide on its architecture? (25th - 27th June)

 

This module focuses on selecting 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 and where data is entered and how the need for non-standard data will have an impact on the number of MIS instances that may be necessary.

 

 

 

Webinar 2 at 10:00 German time on Monday 28th June 2021

 

5.3       Module 3:  Setting up an MIS and the first project (3rd – 7th July)

 

This module takes the students through the entire set-up process of the MIS and its constituent projects. What information is needed to complete the set-up at different levels and the roles of the MIS Administrator, Project Administrators and Data Entry Officers. The students’ assignment is to set up their own MIS, based on a standard project.

 

 

 

Webinar 3 at 1000 German time on Saturday 3rd. July 2021

 

5.4       Module 4:  Data definitions, data collection, review and entry (8th – 13th July)

 

This module looks at the data that is needed in order to use the MIS. This is divided into Static data (collected only once), Cycle data (collected only once during the operating cycle) and Standard data that is always collected on monitoring visits. It also covers the creation of User-defined fields, which fall into two categories (pre-defined and those created by the user). It covers how the data collection process itself yields MIS information in the field for field staff and groups alike and how this can be used to determine profitability.

 

 

 

Webinar 4 at 10:00 German time on Thursday 8th July 2021

 

Webinar 5 at 10:00 German time on Tuesday 13th July 2021

 

 

 

5.5       Module 5: Report preparation, analysis and application (14th – 21st July)

 

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

 

  • MIS level. Project aggregation and Project comparison. These are reports that are used by programme management to aggregate and compare projects and use synthesized data
  • Project level 1. Project performance. Three reports mainly of interest to senior management, donors etc., covering overall project performance, how this compares to the benchmark regional and national standards and how key indicators change over time.  The reports are the same as for the MIS Administrator, but cover only a single project.
  •  Project level 2. Operational performance. Four reports designed to compare Trainer efficiency and effectiveness

 

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.

 

 

 

Webinar 6 at 10:00 German time on Wednesday 14th July 2021

 

Webinar 7 at 1000 German time on Saturday 17th July 2021

 

5.6       Module 6: Setting up networks and reviewing supplemental utilities (22nd – 29th July)

 

This module covers the establishment of networks of projects that are unconstrained by their origins in different MIS instances and allows programmes to aggregate and compare projects in different MIS instances, which also may be in different countries. It also covers miscellaneous utilities that were not covered in the earlier modules.

 

 

 

Webinar 8 at 10:00 German time on Thursday 22nd July 2021

 

Webinar 9 at 11:15 German time on Monday 26th July 2021

 

5.7       Graduation (30th July)

 

  • Reviewing network of participant projects and reports and comparing accuracy of data entry.
  • Graduation ceremony.

 

Webinar 10 at 10:00 German time on Friday 30th July 2021

 

6.    Scoring of Assignments, Discussions and         Participation

 

  Figure 2: Scoring

 

% of overall grade

Assignments

Contributions to Discussions

Participation in Webinars

Module 1

-

-

2

Module 2

5

5

2

Module 3

10

5

2

Module 4 Part 1

15

5

2

Module 4 Part 2

No assignment

Optional discussion

2

Module 5 Part 1

10

Optional discussion

3

Module 5 Part 2

10

5

3

Module 6 Part 1

10

Optional discussion

2

Module 6 Part 2

No assignment

Optional discussion

2

Total

60

20

20

 

 

 

Assignments receive the highest proportion of scores. It is expected that when assignments are issued, students will engage with the trainers as may be needed to clarify the assignments and will also engage with the trainers after webinars are completed for the same reason. Active participation in discussions is a standard requirement of the course, and we will likely contact students whose participation in discussions is low to satisfy ourselves of their level of comprehension. Contributions to discussions need to be thoughtful and substantive and not just a single word response. Participation in live Webinars refers to attendance and commenting/querying on chat or by voice.

 

 

 

7.       Level of effort required

 

Attendance at Webinars will always require about 2 hours of your time.  Assignments will also require between 2 and 3 hours of your time.  As the course proceeds the amount of work on Assignments gets heavier and there is a need to expect that module 5, in particular will need more of your time, because there are two assignments due that are quite demanding and may need engagement with the trainers, outside normal class hours.  We have also allowed more days for modules 3 and 4 because we anticipate a lot of one-on-one coaching to facilitate setting up your MIS and entering data. 

 

  •  The average Webinar will need 2 hours of your time
  • The average Assignment will need about 2 hours of your time (Note that 2 Assignments are required in Module 5)
  •  Modules 2 - 5 require you to participate in discussions and this should take about an hour of your time.  You are not only expected to post your opinions, but engage with other participants in debating and exploring the issues..

 

  Figure 3:  Hours required of participants, by module

 

 

 

Module No.

Days per module

No. of webinars

No. of assignments

No. of discussions

Total hours

1

3

1

0

0

2

2

4

1

1

1

5

3

5

1

1

1

5

4

6

2

1

1

7

5

7

2

2

2

10

6

7

2

1

1

7

 

A Note on Inactivity

 

The benefit of online learning is that participants are embedded in life and work, but this can get in the way of steady learning and accumulation of knowledge. You must make a conscious commitment of time and attention to the course for it to be effective.

We will consider a student to be inactive if there is no involvement of any kind (reading, participation in webinars, participation in discussions and completion of assignments) for one week. There is some flexibility as it is understood that emergencies arise. However, it is the professional responsibility of the participant to forewarn the facilitator and provide alternatives to ensuring that outcomes of the course are met. Failure to do so will result in exclusion from the course.