The programme enables women and men from disadvantaged communities to have better jobs by improving their skills, their income and their workplaces. It focuses on apprenticeship and entrepreneurship based interventions for the informal economy, enterprise development in the light engineering sector and building a pool of skilled professionals for Bangladesh’s increasingly capital intensive formal sector. As of 2018, over 60,000 youth, business owners and migrants have been reached, with the goal of reaching half a million over the next few years. To achieve the goal, SDP needs to analyse their operations and results in a smart way to encourage continuous improvement of the programme. BRAC had built other MIS systems so the SDP team took those into consideration in building their solution.
”Management wasn’t using those systems to really drive their decisions,” said Eshrat Waris, manager of the skills development programme, during a recent TaroWorks webinar. “After studying, (it) became clear those systems were being built for donor reporting…(but) it’s not where the data flows from. The data flows from the field.”
Hoping to make it easier to aggregate, analyse and act on large amounts of collected field data, Waris and her colleagues had also previously tried several data collection, analysis and decision-making approaches, including spreadsheets with macros. They discovered, however, that different versions of Excel in use by BRAC across the country created compatibility and performance issues.
The SDP team eventually turned to TaroWorks’ mobile field services management app and its offline Salesforce.com CRM to power a pilot project for 15 branches. The goal was to see if the use of digital tools could make data management more efficient and inform daily decisions to foster continuous improvement in operations.
The new TaroWorks/Salesforce.com system was piloted for SDP’s Skills Training for Advancing Resources (STAR). STAR trains youth, especially women and people with disabilities, through on-the-job apprenticeships. The apprentices or learners are placed under a master craftsperson, who is an experienced shop owner or worker within a trade including tailoring, mobile phone servicing, refrigeration, aluminum fabrication and beauticians. Fifteen branches were selected for the pilot, which included 1,741 learners and 721 master craftsmen.
One of BRAC’s biggest challenges in using mobile technology and a cloud database to foster continuous improvement of apprenticeship programme field operations was how these tools would meet the needs of the far-flung team of programme organisers.
“It is a field-heavy operation and data was absolutely critical for understanding what was happening on the ground, to make decisions, and to understand are we targeting the right people are we targeting the right trades. We needed a real-time field operations management system and for us TaroWorks served that purpose,” said Waris during the webinar.
When Waris and her colleagues designed the system pilot, they wanted to make sure that it would be successfully adopted. These were some of the design principles they followed:
The system was soon on its way to being adopted and encouraging continuous improvement of operations. As a result, BRAC scaled the system from 15 to 141 branches overnight.
TaroWorks was used to create and administer mobile data collection surveys, digitise key elements of daily field management and identify trends or roadblocks through data visualisation dashboards within Salesforce. As a result, BRAC was able to show continuous improvement in a number of areas including:
With the mobile technology pilot completed, BRAC learned important lessons, which helped in expanding TaroWorks and Salesforce use across all of its field operations in Bangladesh.
The article originally appeared on the TaroWorks blog.
Elaine Chang is director, market development and customer success at TaroWorks.