Information is Beautiful

My work at my previous company – check them out at http://www.komaza.org

At KOMAZA we value data-driven decisions. We believe in going where the evidence takes us. That’s why this year I led the development of a comprehensive operational database, with the goal of keeping track of everything we need and want to know about our work. Creating KOMAZA information systems has been an exciting project to work on, mainly because the impact is so large.

Previously, we were bogged down in paper forms which would pile up in the corner of our office space, yellowing with age. Our field facilitators were turning these forms in every week, having filled in key data such as pest instances, number of crops affected, status of farmer maintenance activities like weeding and mulching. However, the forms would only be reviewed once by senior field staff, which left the potential for this collected information largely unrealized. After all, how closely can one person examine a constant stream of weekly paper forms, numbering in the thousands?

 

With our new database system, a wealth of opportunities has opened up to us. Real time and periodic reports provide us with an overview of our work. A big win is that we are now able to see trends over time, whereas our vision had been extremely short-sighted before. Pest reports and farmer geo-information along with dates of field staff farm visits come together in a rich visual picture and we know, for example, that the dangerous Chalcid wasps appears to be moving in a south west direction, and we can prepare to take preventative measures for all farms in their path.

Several projects have spun off of the new database, all with the aim of using real data to inform our decision making processes. One of our Analysts just completed a project on tree growth, giving us vital information on the progress of our trees and enabling us to make predictions about harvest volumes. We continue to develop our mapping project, basing staffing assignments and other logistical plans on our new geographic data.

Over time, our vision is to have sleek reporting and analysis systems for all aspects of KOMAZA’s business. Quality information systems will enable us to scale at the rapid pace we aim for, while remaining accountable and efficient.

Cross-posted at http://komaza.org/blog/?p=522

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