Outcome Harvesting & Sprockler – stronger together

An innovative ‘Outcome Harvesting’ feature in Sprockler will be launched in January 2020. Sprockler is a perfect tool to collect stories, and it has got more to offer. It can also serve as a tool to collect, substantiate and visualize ‘outcomes’.

According to the Outcome Harvesting (OH) methodology, an outcome is the evidence of what has changed during or after an intervention (or project, programme, organisation). Then, working backwards, you can determine whether and how an intervention has contributed to these changes. This helps in complex situations where the effects of interventions are often unknown in advance. An outcome description includes: who changed what, when and where, the intervention's contribution and the significance of the outcome. Outcome Harvesting is currently being used by many NGOs, who are all struggling to verify their outcomes and to make sense of large sets of outcomes.

The Sprockler Outcome Harvesting feature offers a unique way to combine the collection and substantiation of outcomes, two important steps in OH. Firstly, you design an outcome inquiry and enter your outcomes in the tool. Secondly, you add names and email addresses of the individuals you would like to substantiate outcomes. Thirdly, you design a substantiation inquiry and send the selected outcome directly to them. They will be able to read the outcome and answer questions in the substantiation inquiry, such as ‘to what extent do you agree with the outcome?’ and ‘was the outcome intended or unintended?’. In Sprockler, the outcome and the substantiation responses are now automatically linked. This linkage was never possible in any kind of software before.

Sprockler brings more to the table due to its unique Visualizer. In one interactive report, both the outcomes and the substantiation responses are visualized. The perspective of the harvester (who entered the outcome in the outcome inquiry) and the perspective of the substantiator (who responded to the outcome from an external perspective) are combined. Do the harvester and the substantiator have different points of view and what can we learn from that? For example, overclaiming by the harvester can be detected by considering the viewpoints of the substantiator and new and unintended outcomes can come to light.

The development of this feature was initiated by Sprockler’s Nele Blommestein. Five years ago, during her time at Oxfam Novib, she started collecting stories through Sprockler while it was still a prototype. She also used the Outcome Harvesting methodology separately. Three years ago, she decided to continue this work as independent consultant. For a few clients, she experimented with Sprockler as a tool to collect and visualize outcomes. This was very successful, but also time-consuming and fault-prone, because she had to do the data processing herself manually. That is why she initiated the development of this new automatic feature, together with other Sprockler experts.

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