Am I scaling efficiently?


Am I scaling efficiently?

The main reason of scaling a social innovation is about increasing the social impact. Therefore it is key to measure and monitor your performance in the scaling process. Being transparent about your social impact is key to engage with all your stakeholders and funders. The development of social enterprises requires to continuously seek a balance between increasing social impact and the increase of resources that create this impact. To support this search for balance, it’s important to continuously follow-up and evaluate both the economic and social performance and impact.

The key questions in this chapter:

  1. Do we have KPI’s (key performance indicators) to measure and communicate the success of our social innovation, both for society and economically?
  2. Have we shared the results of our scaling with our key stakeholders?
  3. Have we used the learnings from our scaling to strengthen our organisation?
  4. Are we ready to scale further with new markets and/or partners?

1. Do we have KPI’s to measure and communicate the success of our social innovation, both for society and economically? 

There is no universal process for defining KPI’s and performing impact measurement that suits every organisation. In order to make it relevant and useful, every organisation needs to work out its own process.

Useful guidelines in the development of effective measurement are given by GECES [1] in the box below. When defining your KPI’s, keep in mind the following eight characteristics:

For measurement to be effective it must be:

  1. Relevant: Related to, and arise from the outcomes it is measuring
  2. Helpful: In meeting the needs of stakeholders, both internal and external
  3. Simple: Both in how the measurement is made, and in how it is presented
  4. Natural: Arising from the normal flow of activity to outcome
  5. Certain: Both in how it is derived, and in how it is presented
  6. Understood and accepted: By all relevant stakeholders
  7. Transparent and well-explained: So that the method by which the measurement is made, and how that relates to the services and outcomes concerned are clear
  8. Founded on evidence: So that it can be tested, validated, and form the grounds for continuous improvement.

It is necessary to evaluate the costs to implement the measurement process. Which indicators are measurable, and which are not? Good social impact measurement must balance the needs of stakeholders with the obligation not to waste generally limited resources. Measurement can be done internally, or by external organisations who can help you to define and design an impact measurement framework.

It can be effective to bring together similar organisations that are working on similar areas or having similar goals, to measure their impact and collaborate in order to obtain a stronger and recognisable route.

Social impact measurement is critical, yet too few innovations have clear metrics
We have noticed that very limited amount of social innovations are capable of reporting strong data on social impact. Support is required in this particular area.

[1] From: European Commission, Proposed Approaches to Social Impact Measurement, GECES Sub-group on Impact Measurement 2014

2. Have we shared the results of our scaling with our key stakeholders? 

Involving all your stakeholders in the different impact measurement phases is important. Not only at the end, but right from the beginning. Get them on board, ask for feedback and make them familiar with the measurement process.

Keep in mind that there are a variety of stakeholders who are crucial to the success of the scaling process, and will therefore need to be involved: funders, public authorities, potential customers, beneficiaries, local communities where the scaling will take place etc. It is a good exercise to define for all these stakeholders what their interests are and if they can they confirm the same? Finally inform them on how you will measure the indicators and how you will be sharing the results with them (on a public website, in a meeting, via a personal mail…?). Ask for their feedback and make room for their suggestions.

Keep in mind that growth takes time to materialise. Even if implementation happens right away, sometimes evidence of growth or impact is not immediately felt or seen. It is a non-linear process. Within BENISI we noticed a sudden influx of scaling success feedback from people we worked with two to three years ago.

3. Have we used the learnings from our scaling to strengthen our organisation? 

Besides sharing the results with your key stakeholders, measurement of your performance is a key asset to improve and strengthen your own organisation. It has to be realised both inside and outside the organisation: not only talking about ‘what’, but also about ‘why’. Measuring your impact enables your organisation to learn, refocus and improve your scaling process. Share it with your whole team in a transparent and useful way. Celebrate milestones!

4. Are we ready to scale further with new markets and/or partners? 

Congratulations, you’ve been through the whole scaling journey! Are your ready to now scale even further and increase your impact? You are quite familiar with the whole process, but don’t hesitate to go back to stage 1, ‘Am I ready for scaling?’ to guide you through the process again.

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  • Indicators have to be simple, whilst still being relevant and proportionate reflections of the outcomes and impact to be measured.
  • Measuring social impact could help in convincing potential mentors and sponsors.

Useful Resources

To find out more about follow-up and evaluation, please visit our online database with useful resources. A sample of these is listed here below:

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