WWF, the world’s leading independent conservation organisation, appointed Createful to develop a digital version of their Enabling Environmental Assessment Tool, a data gathering and analysis system deployed in field offices across the world, to assess and monitor Forest Governance.
The EEAT allows users to systematically assess the state of the enabling environment for sound forest management and responsible trade; identify opportunities and develop comprehensive strategies around key issues; and, monitor over time the effectiveness and impacts of its policy, advocacy and improved governance work at project and program levels.
Working with stakeholders in the USA and the Netherlands, Createful teamed up with WWF to design and build a digital version of the tool that would replace and build upon the current spreadsheet-based system already in use all over the world.
The Createful team helped to design a visually appealing and easy to use application that significantly upgraded the existing excel-based data management system we had. I especially appreciate that they cared about user experience and tried to understand the complex and heterogeneous circumstances in which the tool is applied. It was a real pleasure to work with such skilled and dedicated professionals.
The new EEAT transforms a manual, spreadsheet-based process into fast, lightweight digital tool that’s an ideal base for future expansion
Flexible and visual tool to allow analysis across regions and time
Providing administrators granular access control, with a full audit trail
The WWF team kicked off the project by sharing with us a lean brief that outlined the questions that the digital version of the tool would need to address, such as:
These questions were being answered using a sophisticated spreadsheet-based data capture tool that provided the team with the insights they needed, but presented challenges in performing comparative analysis of data over time or across regions – forcing the need to print out assessments in order to effectively compare. Also, managing multiple spreadsheets from regions all over the world presented challenges and a risk of human error, and there was no straightforward way for administrators to fully track changes made by field operatives.
The new, digital tool would address all these issues by creating a centralised source of all data, to which administrators could grant varying levels of access according to need. The new system would make creating new assessments, accessing old ones and creating bespoke analyses in real-time a quick and easy task.
As the goal was primarily to digitise an existing offline system, this project was an ideal opportunity for the development team, John Parker and Mik Constantinou to jump straight into the code and, working alongside our Experience Director, Ben Young, use rapid, code-based prototyping to quickly produce a simple but fully functional proof-of-concept that would form the basis of the tool early in the project, avoiding the need for an up-front design sprint.
Taking this approach highlighted issues early in the project, which provided plenty of time to come up with technical solutions, and be able to give visibility to the WWF team to test and experiment with the evolving product, far earlier than if we had taken a more ‘traditional’ development approach.
EEAT was a standout project for me, even with 20 years in software development. Technically challenging and working with a force for good in the world, it's exactly the kind of project that makes me tick.
Drawing on years of data modelling experience, Mik and John structured the raw assessment data in a way that makes it both easy to query and extensible to cater for future requirements.
They also leveraged off-the-shelf components as much as possible to save on development and design costs, and built the base dashboard on top of the Backpack admin system, which meant development time was focused on higher value, project specific development such as data analysis rather than mundane, code-heavy operations.
The EEAT was built in such as way as to be easily expanded and adjusted according to how it performs in real-life use. It is currently in the process of deployment in the field.
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