Developing a Quantitative Database for monitoring data collection
A quantitative database transforms data into information. With raw data, it is not
easy to make project decisions, to review trends or to meet the information needs of
various project stakeholders. The database should systematically transform data into
information that meets the needs stated in your M&E plan.
1. The software used is appropriate to the project’s needs and
The common types of quantitative database software used are Microsoft Excel,
Microsoft Access, and the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS). Annex A
provides a summary of the advantages and disadvantages for each software
program. Prior to selecting the software, first consider whether you require a
monitoring or an evaluation database based on the type of data you are collecting
and the frequency of collection. See below for more information about monitoring
andevaluation databases. Annex B provides additional descriptions of monitoring
Do not merge monitoring and evaluation data in one database. Instead, create
separate monitoring and evaluation databases for the same project. Monitoring and
evaluation databases have quite distinct functions and setups. Merging the databases
willcreate an overly complex database and yield little benefit. You can combine
monitoring and evaluation data (taken from each database) in a separate database if
needed for analysis.
A monitoring database captures data collected in your monitoring and track
outputs, activities and progress of the project. A monitoring database will house
repeated data entry (e.g., for different months or locations) in different columns or
different sheets (in Excel). It should create a summary sheet that automatically
updates and sums the current progress toward targets (e.g., from different months
or locations). The summary sheet should present, for each activity or output
indicator, the number completed during this reporting period, the cumulative
number completed to date, the overall target number, and the percentage of target
completed to date.
Consider using Excel or Access for monitoring databases. Each of these software
programs includes a simple function to create summary sheets for use in monthly or
An evaluation database should store all information included in the evaluation‘s
quantitative questionnaires and should be designed for one data entry event.
Baseline and evaluation data should be housed in separate databases; they can be
linked later if necessary. Consider using SPSS for your evaluation databases. SPSS
allowsfor both simple and complex analyses.
Databases can be converted between Excel, Access and SPSS, with only minor
readjustments required. For example, you can decide to enter data in Excel and
conduct the analysis in SPSS.