2. Evaluate the Source of Information
It may be possible to gain insight into some objectives, or the information we need to assess our performance of them, from existing sources. We call this, secondary data. If we are contemplating using this information, we need to be sure that it is trustworthy, accurate and relevant to the specific objective we want to assess. We may need to think about:
- Who compiled the information, and do they have the appropriate education and experience to do this accurately?
- Who is the intended audience for this information? Is it acceptable to use it for your purposes?
- What type of source is it? Is it Board level financial information, or hearsay from the coffee room? Is the information suitable for your needs (e.g. not too simple or too difficult)?
- When was the information produced? Is it still timely enough, or will it be produced again?
- Why was the information produced? Could the purpose result in any bias (e.g. political or cultural)?
- How is the information organised? Does this suit our needs, or will we need the raw evidence to collate it in a useful format ourselves?
If we are planning to collect our own information, then we need to select the most appropriate collection method. This will be primary information. Resources, including expertise, will influence this but it is likely that there will be low cost options that can be adapted for your use (which we will examine below).