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MERL Systems


Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL) Systems apply the principles/best practices of data collection, aggregation, analysis, and reporting to the specific needs of a global MERL program as defined by an international NGO. Beyond the standard requirements for any data system, NGOs can have additional requirements including:


  • Mobile data collection

  • Offline data collection/storage

  • Privacy and security

  • Multiple languages

  • Limited staff skills

  • Challenged infrastructure

  • Reporting appropriate for donor-funded projects


NPOKI offers consulting services in the selection and implementation of a MERL system. Working collaboratively with the NGO staff (including country offices), we examine all elements necessary to help your organization upgrade its current system or implement a new system.


Phase One - Information Audit

  • Perform a high-level documentation and analysis of current relevant data collection processes and systems.

  • Summarize institutional history.

  • Interview staff and stakeholders (Information Audit).

  • Summarize findings.

  • Characterize the level and need for an improved or different system/solution.

  • If appropriate, create a Business Case for a new/improved data collection/case management system, including the return on investment (ROI).


Phase Two - Choosing a MERL Systems Solution

  • Choose a Solutions Evaluation Team.

  • Write an RFP.

  • Implement a Solution Selection Process.

  • Vendor Responses/Presentations.

  • Solution Recommendations.

  • Final Analysis & Recommendations.


Phase Three - Implementing a MERL system

  • Assist in the negotiation and contracting with the selected vendor

  • Document and review the business processes required for the implementation of the MERL system (or solution chosen).

  • Develop a Requirements Document specific to the selected solution.

  • Create a project plan.

  • Define the phases of implementation.

  • Create a draft timeline for implementation/deployment - urgent but achievable.

  • Develop a communications plan.

  • Make a change management plan.

  • Arrange for approval points during the implementation.

  • Plan how you will test the implementation.

  • Migrate your project data - current, historical, or both.

  • Plan your go-live activities.


NPOKI has extensive expertise in assessing an organization’s best practices in the management of information to achieve its strategic goals. Information management impacts all aspects of the work of a nonprofit organization, including its projects and programs, its operational support, its ability to fundraise, to win awards, and to manage those grants and contracts. We characterize a Strategic Processes/Systems Review & Assessment as identifying and evaluating the essential protocols, policies and procedures, the staff training and capacity, the appropriate technology, the communications practices, and the organizational infrastructure to facilitate optimal business processes.

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