iDE Global WASH
Robust data collection takes time and effort, but pays off in better understanding a changing market.
- iDE takes steps to improve sales verification processes by trying to incentivize LBOs and Sales Agents.
- iDE begins practice of hiring Sales Agents directly who are trained to use cloud-based system.
- Today, Management Information Systems (MIS) are accessible by all team members, with customized data dashboards that provide staff information at a granular level as it is being gathered.
Evolution of Data Collection Process
At the start of sanitation marketing in Cambodia, iDE collected sales data directly from project-connected latrine businesses every two weeks. The businesses maintained record books to track customer data and sales details. Research assistants recorded summary data on deliveries based on the record book and took a digital photo for verification purposes. In order to track six-month installation rate and usage, the project also randomly verified selected sales 6-12 months after the transaction date.
iDE discovered that data in these latrine business record books was often incomplete, since record keeping was a new process for many of these businesses who had been more accustomed to a strict produce-as-needed business model. In order to tighten the verification process, iDE management clarified that sales agents would not receive sales incentives for sales that lacked proper client identification.
Tying sales incentives to data completion, along with increased latrine business familiarity with the record book, contributed to an improvement in data collection. But in order to truly understand sales, iDE realized that what we needed was a more robust data collection that captured much more granular sales data.
As part of their training, sales agents were trained to record what were known as the “special numbers.” These numbers helped the sales agent, the Latrine Business Owner, and iDE project management analyze why sales were strong or weak.
For door-to-door sales, these special numbers included:
- Number of households who experienced the Family Sanitation Book (the site seller sales tool)
- Number of sales made from doing direct visits
- Number of referrals gotten from each direct visit
For group presentations, these included:
- Number of households in the village without latrines (obtained from the village chief)
- Number of non-latrine households attending the group presentation
- Number of sales made at the group presentation
As important as these numbers were, sales agents had a hard time seeing the longer-term benefits of documenting and analyzing their efforts. This meant iDE project staff spent more time doing hands-on observing and coaching rather than analyzing precise data to identify areas for improvement. The ability to better manage sales agents improved significantly once project staff shifted focus from Latrine Business Owners (LBOs) to sales agents. However, getting granular data like the special numbers was still difficult since sales agents were not directly employed by the project.
This issue was one of the many that drove the decision to de-couple sales agents from the latrine businesses, first establishing the agents as an independent sales force that received commissions for every sale they made no matter which latrine business ultimately delivered and installed the latrine. Ultimately, to address agent turnover and a maturing market, iDE decided to directly hire the sales agents and provide them a monthly salary. Once agents worked under iDE management, it became easier to motivate and incentivize more robust data collection. The implementation at the same time of the TaroWorks mobile sales application to capture sales order data in the sales agent’s smartphone that then updated the Salesforce database once the agent connected to the internet helped to minimize transcription mistakes, increase data completeness (by having mandatory data fields), and speed up data reporting.
To increase our understanding of delivery and installations, iDE modified how we verified the monthly delivery data records. This helped us ensure that deliveries were accurately and properly recorded in LBOs’ record books and documented in Salesforce. The following process was established:
- Every month, iDE Sanitation Business Advisors check each LBO logbook for completeness and accuracy of data entry. Delivery data from the logbooks is then directly entered through Taroworks and uploaded to iDE’s Salesforce database.
- On a monthly basis, LBOs with greater than 35 reported deliveries in the past month are stratified by province. The M&E Coordinator selects LBOs from each province by using probability proportional to size sampling, replacing those who were randomly selected the previous month.
- Research assistants are assigned two LBOs for verification. At least 10 customers are randomly selected per LBO for follow-up and verification of delivery.
- Research assistants complete field verification reports and sync these to a Salesforce database. If there are at minimum two misreported cases per LBO, the M&E team conducts follow-up checks for all deliveries of the LBO during the month.
The combination of these increased data collection and verification efforts has driven iDE’s ability to better manage our sales strategy, quickly identifying problem areas as well as opportunities to better engage with businesses and households. In particular, we’ve seen a significant increase in our internal knowledge flow because of the implementation of the distributed management information system (MIS). This MIS is accessible by all team members, with customized data dashboards that provide staff information at a granular level as it is being gathered.