Data System Improvement Toolkit

The Data System Improvement Toolkit is designed to help tribal program grantees develop or improve data systems. Program and evaluation staff who have experience with and oversee changes to their existing data system will find this toolkit informative. If you are interested in using the toolkit but do not have experience with data systems, please contact your technical assistance provider assigned through your federal grant.

How to Navigate the Toolkit

The Data System Improvement Toolkit contains five modules that walk users through the steps of strengthening their data system. Each module includes the following:

  • Introduction, including goals and terminology
  • Overview of the tools
  • Copies of the tools, including modifiable versions when applicable

Click on a module below to access its content. You can also download the full toolkit in PDF, including a more in-depth introduction.

How to Use the Toolkit

The five modules in this toolkit represent steps in a cycle. However, data system improvement is ongoing with no defined beginning or end. The following questions can help programs choose the right starting point for their needs:

  1. Does your system currently meet your requirements or do you need something new?
  2. What challenges most impact your ability to serve families?
  3. What improvements do you need to focus on most, in keeping with available time and resources?

Some programs will find that using one module or even one tool can address their needs. Others may find it helpful to access each module in the order they’re presented. For many, the right approach lies somewhere in between.

Data Systems Cycle graphic


Module 1: Choosing a System and Working with a Vendor or Developer

Is it better to use a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product or develop a new, customized one? Make an informed decision and translate it into action.

Module 2: Documenting and Improving Data System Processes

Consistency is key when improving data systems and documenting related processes. Learn how to streamline data entry, quality, and storage.

Module 3: Protecting Data Ownership and Privacy

Get up to speed on managing and protecting data—and how to address these issues with systems vendors and developers.

Module 4: Displaying and Reporting Data

Access tools for creating and refining data dashboards to monitor services and prepare reports for funders.

Module 5: Optimizing Your Current Data System

Strengthen your existing data system by learning to conduct assessments, identify enhancements, and organize your overall improvement project.