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"Researchers from the University of Essex have developed the spotlight toolkit, an on-line interactive tool that helps you design tailored impact evaluations. The spotlight toolkit is ideally suited for any organisation interested in assessing the impact and effectiveness of their programmes or services. spotlight is a design tool helping to scope an evaluation project, build logic models, determine ethical protocols and choose measures."
"spotlight is unique because it is interactive and works with you to design your own evaluation. Users are guided through spotlight’s step-by-step process in order to specify a theory of change or causal model that identifies what should be evaluated and why. spotlight guides users to the appropriate measures for the evaluation."
How does spotlight work?
"The toolkit takes users through a range of questions. The answers are used to construct an evaluation framework matching the project’s needs. As users go through this process, they learn techniques to design and conduct future evaluations. Future evaluation design becomes easier and more intuitive, and the users gain new transferable skills and experiences."
The Results Mapper
This is the heart of the design tool, it enables a project designer to add project attributes; inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes, objectives and connect them together into a logic map network.
Additional Data Processes and Outputs
spotlight guides the user through the entire project evaluation design process asking questions about each input, activity, output, outcome and objective. Expert system 'wizards' make suggestions for possible solutions and approaches based on the answers to these questions. This enables the automatic generation of a wide variety of useful documents to facilitate the project evaluation framework actualisation.
Further details are not available at this time due to NDA agreements.
HBM were responsible for the user interface / user experience design and complete implementation of the spotlight toolkit. spotlight was built using the Laravel ecosystem (Spark, Forge, Github, and Digital Ocean etc.) to create the decision making tool as a Software as a Service application - SaaS or 'web app', with multi-layered user accounts, team billing via Stripe and secure API functionality built in.
HBM translated client/designer needs, ideas and extensive documented protocols (one document 180 pages consisting largely of logic tables) into an interactive online tool fit for trialing by prospective clients i.e. public services such as local authorities, police, fire and rescue services, public health bodies, education establishments and third sector (non-profit) organisations. We also contributed through ongoing discussion to the development of the specification as inevitable logic errors and inconsistencies revealed themselves during implementation.
HBM developed the architecture to include multi-leveled user subscriptions, decision wizards, and step-by-step help/guidance; developed the user interface design and core system to generate multiple outputs based on user inputs, including visual theory-of-change maps (see image below), research designs for gauging programme impact, task lists, and ethical human subjects protocols.
Timescales and Costs
HBM recognised the immense public service value potential in this app and contributed to the costs involved in developing this web application as a personal donation to the wider community by operating at heavily discounted rates. The project ran for over 12 months, involved writing nearly quarter of a million lines of code and cost approximately £38,000. Typically a development of this level of difficulty and sophistication would cost in excess of £100,000 and would be at our standard rates over a similar time period.
Steve at HBM is a meticulous coder with great attention to detail. He applies his phenomenal work ethic to everything he does, which includes all the work he does for you.Dr Gina Yannitell Reinhardt PhD Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer
Department of Government, University of Essex
The text and images for this case study are taken from and based on the Spotlight Toolkit Flyer (.pdf 845KB).