Lobo and I met three of the 2018 Tech4Dev grantees last week (the week of June 2nd ). The meetings were for getting feedback on their experience within the Tech4Dev collaborative, in general, as well as on their experience with their respective software partners. All three meetings were kept to around thirty minutes and were kept informal and conversational. All of the grantees were sent a list of questions the day before; however, the questions were to serve as a guide to thought and not a list to compulsorily stick to.
We met two grantees – Anarde and Toy Bank in Mahim and the third, TISS, in Sion (after some running around to find the correct Café Coffee Day; apparently there are three very close to each other!). All three shared great feedback on the solutions the software partners are building for them, on the nature of the interactions, and on the whole Tech4Dev experience. While they were satisfied with the solutions being built, there were a few insights that could greatly enhance the process, going forward:
- Communication is key. The initial communication between the grantees and the software partners has scope for improvement. There were a few instances of lack of clarity on timelines and a period of silence between conversations that the grantees felt could have been avoided. A weekly update call or email between the grantee and the software partner would be a good starting point.
- It is necessary to have very clear role definitions and articulation of responsibilities between the grantee and the software partner at the start of the project. This will enhance co-working towards the solution.
- Grantees and software partners could do with more research on each other before even the first meeting. Grantees could be provided with references to past similar work done by software partners, other organizations for whom they have built solutions, and a general list of capabilities. Software partners could try and understand what the grantees do, what they believe in, what impact the grantee interventions are expected to lead to, by exploring the grantee websites or even talking to the grantees about their work before starting conversations on requirements and solution needs.
- There can be a difference in perspective between the grantees and software partners that needs to be understood and navigated through with sensitivity. Both need to be aware that while the grantees often think in terms of sensitivity to the cause and even ideology, software partners often come with a systems and processes mindset.
- There can be more ways of the grantee cohorts to know about each other and about each other’s work. Also, in case of shared software partners, would be a good idea to have a channel of communication between grantees too.
- While the software partners build solutions for grantees, the grantees themselves would like to be more tech-savvy not just when interacting with the Tech4Dev partners, but also otherwise, when interacting with or engaging other IT vendors in the future. Some hand-holding or support by Tech4Dev in building this tech-savviness would be appreciated. While there were other operational points of feedback, they were mostly contextual to the grantee and to the solution being built. The overall points above can be considered for generally enhancing the Tech4Dev experience.