The data.org data maturity assessment is a new way for social impact organizations to independently get smarter about where they are in their data journey. There’s a lot at stake: philanthropies are eager to direct their resources in the most impactful way possible, and millions of lives can be improved by savvy and appropriate use of data. With an initial snapshot assessment, the product provides an opportunity for data.org and partners to identify organizations that are ready for investment and to better understand broad data-needs trends. And, built with flexibility to allow for the adjustment of the business logic behind the product, there’s the potential to scale as the concept of data maturity becomes more familiar in the social impact sector.
Having ‘data maturity’ can be a complex concept, but we approached it as a capability centered around people rather than around tech, since a major component of data.org’s work is education for nonprofits that lack data science teams. Our product needed to provide a safe, easy way for users to learn how various types of data competencies can benefit their organization and what steps are needed to get to the next level of operational data use. It was crucial to create a user-centered, welcoming product that works easily on desktop and mobile.
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Innovation by Design
To start, we reviewed an early alpha concept, built on Qualtrics and tested extensively in the field. We noticed it wasn’t as intuitive as it could be, so we spoke to users, audited, deconstructed, and re-pieced together both the framework and format before moving forward.
Our guiding mantra was purpose, practice, and people. This framework, a result of many interviews, testing sessions, and workshops with stakeholders and users, was critical in helping us prioritize and design towards a valuable product shaped by analytics and serving the community—not a shiny marketing toy. To ensure that even the busiest teams can complete the assessment, we worked hard to balance substance with speed. We further smoothed the user’s path with subtle, thoroughly-tested touches like inline helper text and navigational elements allowing users to revisit prior answers.
More than a survey, the data maturity assessment functions as an unbiased resource. Users, no matter their data-savvy or funding level, can experience the tool, share their results with colleagues, stakeholders, and third-party funders, and track their own progress by re-taking the assessment periodically.