Wendy Rogers, Amy Silcock and I head up the direct support the IATI Technical Team gives to organisations. We’ve been internally reviewing the type and amount of support we provide. Here is a summary of what we’ve found:
How do organisations get support?
Contacting the IATI support desk email@example.com means you will get a personal and tailored response, assisting you to find the answer to your query, reach your goal or progress in your IATI journey. This could mean gaining an understanding of what IATI is, publishing data, improving your data quality or using IATI data etc.
The support desk is only one of the routes through which we respond to questions from publishers, data users and wider IATI community. We also interact with the community through IATI Discuss, Github and Twitter, and approve new IATI Registry accounts.
There are a number of organisations that we initiate contact with. Currently these include all IATI members, CSV2IATI users, most Grand Bargain Signatories, Governments, UN organisations and CSOs that we know have an (often political) interest in increasing the quality of their IATI data (or becoming involved in IATI). These have become known as our ‘Data Quality Hitlist’ or ‘Top 100’.
There are a number of other places that organisations can go, and we deliberately point people to, for support. These include, Bond’s support for DFID grantees and the Dutch helpdesk Minbuza. Belgium is in the process of setting up their own support structure. IATI tools and services also have their own support services e.g. AidSteam, Akvo and Spreadsheet2IATI.
How many support requests?
At the time of our review there were 595 IATI publishers. This number has been steadily growing by around 100 publishers per year over the last six years. Each new organisation will have initial contact with the IATI Technical Team, will require some level of training or support and then likely progress to exploring how they can improve their data quality. Publishers’ support needs change over time and part of our role is to support publishers at all stages in their publishing journey.
With the growing number of publishers, the number of support requests we and other support providers receive continues to increase. Looking back over the past six months, each month the IATI technical team receives an average of 110 new support requests via Zendesk, with a corresponding 500 e-mail exchanges. The types of requests we receive really varies, some are quickly resolved and others require ongoing support to help publishers improve the quality of their data.
Types of support requests:
As a rough breakdown of the requests we receive via the IATI support desk:
- 40% are to do with publishing tools. These include questions about AidStream and CSV2IATI e.g. requests of how to link accounts to the IATI Registry, how to enter information, questions about what elements and attributes mean and how to publish requests.
- 20% are to do with the IATI Registry. The majority of these are about IATI Org ID’s and how these should be set up. Along with requests to amend user details and reset forgotten passwords.
- 20% are to do specifically with the IATI Standard. This includes what the standard is, how it should be used and help to map organisations’ internal structures onto IATI. Other asks are for us to review organisations’ draft files as they create their own bespoke systems or upgrade from version 1x to 2.02.
- 20% are to do with data quality or using IATI data. This includes queries about d-portal and the dashboard. Requests can be from publishers reviewing their data and spotting errors or areas to improve, or data users asking about the best way to access and interpret data.
Other areas of support:
As mentioned above, the main support channel for IATI is still the IATI support desk. We do not turn anyone down irrespective of the type of request we receive. We do prioritise requests based on the urgency and importance of the request.
In addition to the support we provide via the IATI support desk, we provide direct 1-to-1 support to publishers and engage with third party providers. We schedule calls with publishers, the number of these varies from week to week. We also provide introductory webinars for groups of organisations that are planning to join IATI, provide some training, review guidance materials that publishers or third parties produce.
With the continuous growth of IATI publishers, the demand for IATI support is increasing. The nature of support required and channels with which support is requested are also evolving. The IATI Technical Team is actively encouraging new channels of support and we are available to help ensure the quality of support is delivered to a high standard. The diagram below attempts to visualise the current situation, being clear that it does not cover all stakeholder groups. Areas in which the IATI technical team currently holds responsibility are highlighted in green:
We recognise the value and importance of working as a community to make sure there are clear mechanisms through which IATI publishers and users can be supported. What is clear is that the number of publishers will continue to grow and with it the requests for support.