Depending on your organization's and program’s capacity and needs, you will want to consider the benefits and trade-offs of different available data systems for strong analysis and reporting on data.

There is a large number of available off-the-shelf, customizable, and online data system tools. Since they are constantly changing and new systems are emerging, this toolkit does not recommend any specific platform; however, we share here considerations and pros/cons of different approaches to meeting data system needs.
Choosing a Data System

Lower/No-cost Systems

Strengths:
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy to learn, no special skills needed
  • Tools are constantly improving and providing more analysis and user-friendly capabilities
Limitations:
  • More complex analyses may not be possible or may be more difficult
  • More manual labor setting up online forms and doing analysis
  • Some upfront learning required

Higher Cost Systems

Strengths:
  • May be capable of more complex analyses
  • May have more user-friendly interfaces with more “controls” that can minimize data entry errors
  • Reports may be more accessible, visually appealing and user-friendly
Limitations:
  • Greater upfront costs and ongoing licensing fees may make these types of systems only accessible to larger organizations
  • Generally require a dedicated staff person with capacity and experience to learn and manage