Deploying a dashboard tool to enable Firstport to monitor the diversity and inclusiveness of their entrepreneur audience
Firstport is a registered charity and started work in 2007 to help social entrepreneurs bring forward their ideas and to make them happen. Since then, they have grown and evolved, supported thousands of individuals and distributed millions of pounds of start-up funding, all with the aim to achieve their vision: for social enterprises to play a key role in society, transforming lives, communities and the economy.
The Scottish Tech Army was founded by Edinburgh based entrepreneurs, Alistair Forbes and Peter Jaco and is a not-for-profit company that built a volunteer Covid-19 technical response team. The Scottish Tech Army’s aim was to help the Scottish Government, Local Authorities and other organisations across the country with rapid technical development projects to address current Covid-19 related challenges and post pandemic recovery.
Everyone who joined the Scottish Tech Army did so as a volunteer, offering their time and talents to help them deliver a wide range of projects. Volunteers were from the broad range of the tech development world including software developers, project and programme managers, social media and marketing, business analysts, application deployment, etc.
Volunteers were matched based on their skills to the needs of the different organisations – this was how we were initially introduced to Firstport in their request to create a Diversity and Inclusion dashboard.
With the objective of making sure they are able to support applications and staff from diverse groups, such as ethnic minorities, disabled and LGBTQ+, Firstport reached out to the Scottish Tech Army to ask for support in building a tool that would allow them to gather insights on their audiences.
There would be several challenges to surmount within the short span of the project, such as some of the data sources not being machine readable (e.g. survey results on a pdf and a non-formatted excel file), and some additional data being available only close to the end of the project. We also needed to create a comprehensive document that described all the features of the dashboard and a technical guide on how to maintain, update and further develop the dashboard.
To ensure efficiency of completion, we decided to split the work by having two team members focused on the hands-on development of the dashboard in Microsoft Power BI and the other two focused on the documentation and research.
We also reached out directly to Firstport stakeholders to gather feedback while we were developing the dashboard - making sure the documentation was comprehensive so that the client would be able to maintain, refresh, and further develop the dashboard.
In under three weeks, our four graduate analytical consultants built a comprehensive dashboard in Power BI to allow effective and efficient monitoring of the diversity and audience-inclusiveness of Firstport’s applicants. The dashboard delivered all the insights that Firstport asked for and indeed went above and beyond what they had expected in the detail included.
Our stakeholders were full of praise for our efforts and immediately used the dashboard to uncover valuable insights. “For example, we already knew that 14% of our applicants identified as disabled. But by analysing the language people use to describe their disabilities, the dashboard shows that mental health is by far the biggest issue among our clients.”
“Before, there was no easy way to analyse how different applicants with different characteristics related to one another. Now we can see for example that almost a third of our LGBTQI+ applicants also identify as disabled.”
Some of the feedback we received from our key stakeholders at the organisation during the handover session was especially positive:
"I wouldn't have thought a word cloud would be needed, but it is so useful."
"I think it looks brilliant, I'm really excited."
Keys to success
- Frequent communication with client
- Collaborative working
- Clear delineation of tasks
- Using the right tools for the task
- Writing documentation alongside developing solution