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This tutorial explains how to implement an impact framework for a portfolio of companies, whether they have the same area of focus (i.e. Education, Health, Agriculture, etc.) or not.
In this tutorial you will:
1. Define an Impact Framework according to your needs
2. Add your portfolio of companies and assign them the appropriate outcome metrics
3. Identify your preferred data collection/data entry method
4. Create a dashboard to demonstrate your results
Before starting, make sure to have the following handy:
* Theory of Change or list of metrics (if available)
* List of portfolio companies on Excel
1. Defining an Impact Framework
The Impact Framework is the base of your impact management strategy. In this step, we define our outcomes and decide if we need to align with any standards or methodologies, such as Theory of Change, the Five Dimensions of Impact (by the Impact Management Project), the Sustainable Development Goals, IRIS+ (by the GIIN), etc.
In this step, we also identify the impact metrics that we will use to collect or enter data in relation to our companies. These metrics can be configured for a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual data collection.
The subsequent example will describe the journey of an Impact Manager who is overseeing organizations encompassing three different impact frameworks.
1.1 Theory of Change
We will begin by creating an Impact Framework aligning with a Theory of Change methodology. To do so, click on "Impact Manager" on the home screen, then "New Strategy", and select "Theory of Change" under "Frameworks" as shown below.
In this example, we will be creating our own ToC in the education space. You can also select a template from a framework that has already been created on the platform, but this will be covered later in this guide. We title this ToC, "Education Example", or whatever is appropriate. The status should be set as active so that it can be selected in future steps. The rest of the options are for your discretion.
After adding a strategy, we can develop our ToC by clicking on TOC Wizard on the top right. Within the TOC Wizard (shown below), we add the specific elements of our Theory of Change. The definition of each of these elements of a ToC model is shown at the top as well.
While filling out each section of the ToC, you can add more elements by clicking on add more. After filling out these elements, you will be prompted on the right-hand side to select which of the elements from the ToC section are related to the previous section of ToC. You can select multiple options here. Make sure to save the results after selecting the options.
You can add metrics associated with your ToC by selecting the "Add Standard Metrics" or "Create Custom Metrics" buttons in the middle. Selecting "Add Standard Metrics" will take you to our Metrics Catalogue through which you can search for metrics that have already been designated as appropriate by various researchers and organizations. The catalog can be navigated through the categories shown on the left.
If you click on "Create Custom Metrics", you will be able to create your own metrics if those that you desire are not found in our Metrics Catalogue. The name of the metric is the actual metric that will be shown on the ToC. The format is the type of data that will be taken in. The polarity related to ranking the data. By hovering over the (?) icons, you can get additional tips and helps in the Advanced menu, which can be reached by clicking "Advanced (Recommended)." All the starred options must be filled out, but the rest of the options are for your own use to clarify the metric.
Finally, if you want to measure certain variables semi-annually, quarterly, etc., you can click on "show indicators" to create another partial ToC for these indicators.
1.2 Five Dimensions of Impact
In this example, we will create an Impact Framework aligning with the Five Dimensions of Impact methodology. To do so, click on "Impact Manager" on the home screen, then "New Strategy", and select "Five Dimensions of Impact" under "Frameworks" as shown below.
The process for filling out the Five Dimensions of Impact is almost identical to the ToC. By clicking on IMP Wizard, you can start developing the framework. The explanations for each section is shown at the top. In developing this framework, a useful resource to refer to IRIS+. IRIS+ is a platform where many IMP and FDI frameworks are available for reference. These frameworks have been heavily researched and are the hallmarks of such frameworks.
When you first begin, you must identify the effect(s) that you want from the organization's operations. These are the selected in the drop-down above "Add Effects". Next, the related metrics are added to each section using the same methodology of Standard Metrics or Custom Metrics. Finally, each of these metrics must be assigned to one of your effects by clicking on "Assign Effects.
The Risk section is slightly different in that you select the effect form the drop down, and click add risks. This will bring up the below menu, where risks are analyzed according to IMP.
Similar to ToC, you can create an alternate FDI framework for data collected semi annually, quarterly, etc.
It is quite simple to create and utilize publicly available templates for ToC or FDI frameworks. In order to create a publicly available template, you just check "Mark as public" when creating the framework as shown below.
In order to utilize a publicly available template, you simply search the template that you want in the "Select Template" box. You then click "Choose this ToC" and name it as you like. This will now show up in your ToC menu.
You have now created your Impact Framework on Impact Cloud! This is perhaps the most critical step in the entire impact management process. The next steps will build upon your strategy to actually add your portfolio of companies.
2. Adding a portfolio of companies
Following the process of creating Impact Frameworks through which an Impact Manager will oversee the progress of the organizations that are funding, we must now add our portfolio of companies into Impact Cloud. By adding our portfolio of companies into Impact Cloud, we will be able to have a centralized database of information regarding our investments.
The subsequent example follows from the previous step, where an Impact Manager who is overseeing organizations encompassing three different impact frameworks.
In order to start the process, navigate to Impact Manager (Portfolio Management + Data Collection) from the home page.
2.1 Importing a list of companies
The image below shows the main page for adding and managing your portfolio of companies. Here we can manage our companies and the data associated with them. The three different tabs of "Prospective", "Active", and "Inactive" refer to the pipeline of companies entering the Impact Manager's organization.
The "Prospective" tab would refer to the organizations that are applying for grants with the Impact Manager or undergoing a due diligence process. The "Active" tab would be those companies that are currently being funded by the Impact Manager. Finally, the "Inactive" tab would be those companies that are no longer being funded by the Impact Manager but previously were.
Using this interface, an Impact Manager could use this as a live way of managing its pipeline of companies.
The first option for importing companies is to use the "Import Investments" button. This option is very useful for when you are importing many investments at once. Once you get to this screen, you download the template by clicking on the cloud icon and fill out the information. Each sheet in the Excel document shows the options for each of the categories.
After filling out the Excel document with the necessary information, you can then upload the file on the next page. The Excel document should look something like below.
Once uploaded, these investments will be shown as its own organization in the Impact Manager Page.
2.2 Creating companies one at the time
Aside from utilizing the "Import Investments" button to mass import a list of various investments, you can also individually add investments. In order to do so, click on the "Add New" button on the Impact Manager page. We would then click on "Investment" since we want to add an investment.
In the above screen, you would then fill in the same information that was filled out in the Excel document. By clicking on "Show all fields", you can see more options to fill out regarding the investment.
When you click an investment that you have created, you can edit existing fields by clicking on "Edit" and also add more fields by clicking on "Manage Fields."
2.3 Assigning metrics to the companies
Once your investments are added to Impact Cloud, you can now assign the metrics that will be used to track their performance. These metrics will be derived from the Impact Strategy Frameworks that were created for these investment categories. For our investments, each of them falls under one of the frameworks that were created in the previous section of this document (Education Example, Accelerator-Health Example, and Agriculture Example). In other words, each investment must fall under an Impact Strategy Framework that you have created.
In order to assign metrics to the companies, click on the "Assign Metrics" button on the Impact Manager page. When you click on the button, you will be redirected to a page that shows you the Impact Strategy Frameworks that you have created on your profile.
The first way to assign metrics to investments is to click on the applicable Impact Strategy Frameworks and individually assign the corresponding metrics to each investment.
For example, the investment "Children's Education Fund" falls under the "Education Example" framework. By selecting the top checkmark under each investment, you can select every metric under this framework for the selected investment. On the other hand, by selecting the left-most checkmark to the left of each metric name, you can assign that metric to every investment.
By clicking on "Load More", you can see more investments not shown on the screen.
The second way to assign metrics to investments is to use the "Search Investment" tool on the top of the screen. By searching for an investment, only that investment shows up when you click on each Impact Strategy Framework.
Finally, make sure to save your metric assignments!
You have now successfully collected all the information about your investments in Impact Cloud. By doing so, you have centralized all necessary information and mechanisms to track data for your investments. The next step will go over how to go about the data collection and entry process.
3. Data collection / Data entry
3.2 Data import
4. Creating dashboards and graphs