Local solutions in action: How Pact is using human-centered design to act on beneficiary feedback

November 2, 2016

One of Pact’s core values is local solutions. In short, this means we believe that true success can only come from solutions created in partnership with the people we serve.

It’s why Pact’s innovation team, which I lead, decided to make beneficiary feedback the focus of our first-ever Global Innovation Competition.

We announced the competition to all of Pact’s country offices early this year. Staff members were invited to submit ideas for how to better use beneficiary feedback in a way that would improve our programming, save time and money, and create new value at Pact. The winning idea would receive six months of support from the innovation team and $3,000 in billable hours to bring their proposal to life.

We received many strong submissions, but one from our Nigeria office stood out. They proposed the Beneficiary Performance Index, or BPI.

From the submission:

“Using the BPI, beneficiaries can share their perspectives by assessing our programs in four areas: community participation, relevance, impact and transparency. Beneficiaries can use the BPI individually on their mobile phones, or the tool can be administered to groups using paper. Either way, it is a self-assessment by beneficiaries of programs designed for them. Once this data is received, feedback is analyzed at Pact’s back end and a summary analysis sheet is automatically sent to project leads for necessary action.”

Since March, Pact’s innovation team has been collaborating with the Nigeria office to develop the BPI tool, and late last month, we took a critical step when we traveled to Gombe State in eastern Nigeria to pilot the tool in Pact’s SAQIP project using human-centered design. Pact has been implementing SAQIP since 2015. The six-year project is improving maternal and child health outcomes in a region of Nigeria where mortality rates among moms and kids are especially high. SAQIP is strengthening public health systems, improving care, building community engagement and empowering women economically using mothers groups and Pact's WORTH model so they can better provide for their families’ health.

On Oct. 24, we conducted the first phase of HCD, inspiration, by meeting with SAQIP mothers groups for focused discussions to learn how their feedback is currently obtained and how it could be improved.

That afternoon, we used the information we’d collected to conduct HCD’s second phase, ideation. Here, we made changes to the BPI to make the tool more empathetic and better tailored to beneficiaries’ needs. For example, the BPI was designed to be administered individually, but in the morning session, beneficiaries told us they’d rather answer the tool’s questions collectively. So we adapted it for group use. 

The next morning, we returned to the mothers group to conduct the third phase of design thinking, implementation. A female member of the Pact team played the role of the "feedback agent" as we ran the full experience of the mothers group interacting with the BPI. After this test, we asked the mothers group several questions to help us understand how it went: Were there too many questions? What questions did you find confusing? Did you like working with the feedback agent? Why?

After recording their input, we held two more meetings – one with local WORTH empowerment workers and another with our local partners. We ran the BPI with each group to better understand their perspectives.

In the end, we came away with a fantastic collection of learnings. For example, there was total disagreement over who should administer the tool; both the empowerment workers and Pact’s local partners thought it should be their role. And we learned that beneficiaries wanted to be asked more questions about their successes, and they wanted the BPI to be administered on a monthly basis.

Surely, all of this knowledge has left us far better positioned to create a finished product that truly works for those it serves. This is at the heart of both HCD and local solutions.

From here, we will iterate further before implementing the BPI across our Nigeria projects and, eventually, across Pact’s programming globally.