Internal records available to a capacity builder might include financial documents, monthly reports, activity logs, purchase orders, etc. The advantage of using records from your organization is the ease of data collection. The data already exists and no additional effort needs to be made to collect it (assuming the specific data you need is actually available and up-to-date).
If the data is available and timely, record review is a very economical and efficient data collection method. If not, it is likely well worth the time to make improvements to your data management system so you can rely on internal record review for future outcome measurement work. Just a few changes to an existing form can turn it into a useful data collection tool. A small amount of staff training can increase the validity and reliability of internally generated data.
Here are some examples of documents or records from which you can gather data:
- Sign-in logs from a series of workshops to track attendance in training, measuring consistency of attendance as an indicator of organizational commitment to learning.
- Feedback forms completed by workshop participants to learn about satisfaction with training provided.
Official records can include Federal, state, or local government sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, health departments, law enforcement, school records, assessor data, etc. If the data is relevant and accessible, then official record review is very low-cost.