From Data to Decisions: The Journey

Once data is available from an HRIS, how can it be used effectively to make decisions? Part of our HRIS Strengthening process is to help managers and policy makers in the countries we work develop necessary skills and techniques for data-driven decision making (DDDM). To achieve this, the Capacity Project is planning a series of DDDM workshops. This past summer, HRIS leaders teamed up with Ummuro Adano, Senior HR Systems Advisor for the Capacity Project, to organize and facilitate the first workshop in Kampala, Uganda. The workshop was attended by 22 human resources for health (HRH) practitioners from different segments of Uganda’s national health system.

Uganda was a perfect choice for the first workshop because data was gradually becoming available from various sources, and preliminary reports were being produced by the iHRIS Qualify system at the Nurses and Midwives Council and the EU HRD project. One participant said that the workshop brought together key people for making decisions and provided the knowledge they needed to better use the information being generated. He described the workshop as timely, “We’ve been in the process of developing different Human Resources databases (and) now we’re in the stage where we should start using the information for planning, for policy making, and for evidence for decisions.”

Ummuro Adano has described DDDM as, “a journey, not a destination,” and has said that there needs to be a process in place for analyzing data and “getting it to the right decision maker at the right time with the power and resources to act on it.” To facilitate the participants’ journey from data to decisions, the workshop began with an activity that demonstrated they were already using data to make personal decisions in their own lives. Participants shared examples of encounters with data from personal or family experiences, and many felt this was a highlight of the workshop. One participant said, “it brought up that most of the time in our life we’re using evidence-based decisions. At times when we ignore it we make errors that we could have avoided.”

Some of the personal examples were about investments or businesses that failed because participants did not do the proper research or collect the right information beforehand. One participant explained his observations of how others related to the principle of the activity, “They actually found out that in our data environments -at home, our interactions with people we work with - we ought to ensure that we get good information, good data, that informs us better before we do an investment, or make decisions. It is important that in our workplace we ensure that we use information to inform ourselves better.”  Emphasizing the need for concrete information about the health workforce, the participant added, “and of course get a feel of how many are leaving and for what reasons, and how we can improve on their environments so that we retain them better.” This exercise set the context for the rest of the workshop and established a shared perspective for the attendees, preparing them for the presentations and group work that followed.