DevLearn has provided online training on Market System Development (MSD) to over 400 people from around the world. Each participant has different experience and expertise that we could share among ourselves to broaden our knowledge. So when one of our participants took the initiative to arrange an ongoing community for participants to share their experiences, we were excited about the opportunity.
The first DevLearn MSD webinar was conducted on the 14th of July 2020 and the topic was how to collect information from market actors. This topic was suggested by Irene Mue, one of our previous student, and she talked about her own practical experience and challenges, before participants brainstormed their own solutions. The top tips emerging from the discussion were:
Tip 1: Have a written formal agreement
If you sign an agreement or contract with your implementing partner, ensure that you clearly mention that data must be shared between the two parties. At the beginning if the data collection part is made formal between both the parties, then it gets much easier when one party needs to collect data because the other party has understood and committed to sharing the information. If there is no formal agreement, a non-disclosure agreement might help build trust that you will not share the information further.
Tip 2: Good cordial relationship
Always keep a very good friendly and cordial relationship with your counterpart. If one has a friendly relationship with the partner then getting information is so much easier. Ensuring that there are defined roles within the organisation, and appointing a ‘relationship manager’ with responsibility for each partnership, might help with this. One participant at the webinar gave the example of a partner with whom he had a friendly relationship. After a long time (even the contract was over) he needed some market information, and was able to call the partner over the phone to get it. Thus by keeping good relationship with the other party is always very helpful to collect information.
Tip 3: Build trust
It is essential that the partners trust you enough to share the data or information. If you are collecting confidential data then it is of utmost important that the other party understands why you need the data, and accepts that you will keep it confidential. You need to be very clear with yourself on what and why you need information. If it is not clear to you, it will not be clear to your partner, and it will not be easy to get information.
Tip 4: Reward
Try to provide incentives for market actors to work with you and provide information for you. Identify why they might be interested in sharing information – is it that they want to learn more about the market, which you are in a position to share? Are they interested in networking opportunities and meeting others in the sector? Or are they just keen to support the development of the sector, and feel that they can benefit from your work?
Tip 5: Make it easy for the partner
Having simple forms, clear questions, and limited demands for data will make it easier for the partner to provide information, and so more likely that they will do so. Ensure that your reporting requirements are flexible enough so that the partner can easily manage it, rather than inflexible requirements which create a lot of additional work for them.