A Network Evaluation Makes Collaboration Easier.

If you’re involved in collaborative work, you know how difficult it can be. Whether it’s a political coalition, cross-sector network or alliance, or just a set of partnerships, managing a network is a unique challenge – totally different than running a hierarchical organization. However, it doesn’t have to be so hard. Over the past decade, we’ve helped hundreds of networks and collaborative initiatives evaluate their work and then translate those insights into action plans. In the past, running an evaluation required advanced knowledge and skills in social network analysis. Hiring a consultant could costs tens of thousands of dollars. However, today, thanks to the PARTNER Platform, you can evaluate your own network for less than $100! Here’s how it works…

Start with your Research Questions!

Before you do anything else, you need to decide what you want to find out – the more research questions you ask, the more data and analysis you will likely need. For your first evaluation, start small and ask 2-3 questions at most – this will help keep your project manageable. A network evaluation can answer many types of questions, both structure-related (who is working with who), and quality-related (how we perceive each other). Here are a few sample questions that PARTNER can help answer:

  • Who is working with who, where, and when?
  • How are network processes impacting desired social outcomes?
  • Who are central partners, and who are more peripheral partners? 
  • Where is trust strong in the network, and where is it lacking? 
  • Who brings what kind of value to the network?
  • What are group perceptions of success, and how do they vary across partners?

Now Bound Your Network!

Once you know your research questions, we have to decide who is relevant to answer them. We call this “Bounding your network” because you are essentially drawing boundaries around your collaboration. This is a balancing act: if you include too many respondents, it will make it difficult to answer network questions, which display the full list of network members (for example, the question: “Which of these partners do you work with?”) On the other hand, if you don’t include a diverse and complete set of stakeholders, your results will be inherently flawed. To learn more about this step, check out our Research Brief on the topic here. 

Customize and Send Your Survey!

Now you have your driving questions, and a list of your network members. The time is here to create your Network Survey to send to them! PARTNER makes this super quick and easy. You can use our default PARTNER survey, and customize or add questions to address any unique research questions you’re asking. Once the survey is ready, you’ll create the emails that will share it with your network. This includes an initial email explaining what the survey is and why it’s important, the actual invitation email with a survey link, and a follow-up reminder for those who don’t answer immediately. As people reply, you can track your response rate and follow up more if need be! You can buy, customize and send a survey to as many respondents as you’d like for just $50! Click here to learn more about our survey builder. 

Analyze & Map Your Results!

This is the best part of the entire process – once you have your network data, you can dive into analyzing and visualizing the results! The PARTNER Data Dashboard uses a network map and a series of filters and functions for analyzing relationships. You can select a question to see the results visually, and then add more data layers, like trust or value scores, to really explore in depth. If you aren’t sure where to start – fear not! We have a ton of resources to help guide you in your analysis, and a Insights Library to help translate your network metrics and scores into understandable and actionable discoveries! You get all this for $15/month – and you can download your raw data at anytime, even after you unsubscribe! 

Build and Share Your Report!

Now you have great data and beautiful network maps to help visualize the results. However your maps are only helpful if you can share them with the change agents that can use them most! Our drag-and-drop Report Builder is part of the Data Dashboard. Save maps, graphs or other visualizations and add them to your Report – add introduction sections on PARTNER and social network analysis, along with insights snippets from our Library. Then export it as a Word document so you can continue to customize or edit as needed. You can build the Report at a rate of $5 per image.

Let’s Add it All Up!

So there you have it! You just need a network survey ($50), a Data Dashboard subscription ($15), and a Report ($5 per image). For $100, you can do an entire evaluation, analyze & visualize your results, and build and share a custom report for your stakeholders! With that data, you can truly transform the way you manage your collaborative relationships – what are you waiting for? Click here to get started today! 

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About the author:

Alex Derr is Visible Network Lab’s Communications Coordinator. He manages the day-to-day affairs of our communication and marketing efforts, including our website, email engagement, social media and content. He enjoys sharing helpful resources and content with our community and users to do more with less and improve their work! Alex graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Political Studies & Environmental Studies, and is finishing his M.P.A at UC-Denver. When not working, Alex enjoys gardening, exploring Denver’s breweries, and climbing 14ers in the Front Range! You can read his Mountaineering Blog here. Learn more about Alex and all our team members here.  


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