Mobilizing Partners and Collecting Data: the SALIM Project Team's Approach to Impact Measurement

Collectif Récolte is playing a pivotal role in strengthening the community food supply in Montreal by promoting values of collective intelligence and sustainability.  This social enterprise, founded 6 years ago, is also the driving force behind the SALIM (Système alimentaire, local et intégré à Montréal) project as part of Montréal in Common, an innovation community experimenting with concrete solutions addressing issues such as mobility, access to food and municipal regulations. The SALIM project brings together 37 partners to  boost the exchange of resources and knowledge between stakeholders in the Montreal food ecosystem. Their goal: a collaborative approach aimed at consolidating the supply network and facilitating local producers' access to markets via an innovative network of shared infrastructures. 

Objectives of the SALIM project

After working with its partners on a number of initiatives for a year, the SALIM team was intent on measuring the impact of the support provided to the various stakeholders. The team designed an impact measurement method based on data collection. Collectif Récolte places great importance on assessing its impact and, in line with its commitment to ongoing improvement, the SALIM project team plans to carry out an impact measurement exercise with its partners on an annual basis to assess the performance of the project and the effectiveness of the actions undertaken.

Find out how the SALIM team engages its partners as part of its impact measurement process in the following case study: Feeding Data Through Collaboration: Collectif Récolte's Approach to a Sustainable Food System.

Questions Raised by the Team for a Successful Impact Measurement

Several key questions emerged within the team regarding partner mobilization and the success of their impact measurement process: 

  1. How can we encourage partners to participate in the data collection step of the impact measurement process?

  2. What data is essential for assessing local and sustainable food projects?

  3. How can we create a climate of trust and transparency for our partners, so that they share as much information as possible and benefit from the team's insights?

  4. How can we ensure that the impact measurement method is suited to the reality of the SALIM project's partners and meets their needs?

These questions gave rise to a variety of discussions and required multiple phases of hypothesis-building and experimentation, involving several iteration cycles.

Data Governance Issues Concerning the SALIM Project

  • The main challenges were twofold: on the one hand, there was a need to strengthen stakeholder involvement in the data collection step of the impact measurement process,  in a context where stakeholders had little time available, and on the other, it was necessary to build lasting trust in the use and insights derived from the data to drive the SALIM project forward.

  • In addition, the diversity and number of partners involved made the impact measurement process more complex. Full participation was rendered difficult by the need to mobilize a diverse group of organizations, with different data cultures and at different stages of their projects. It was essential to avoid an overly rigid evaluation process, which could have discouraged partners by failing to take into account their specific needs and data.

Benefits of the Targeted Support

Do you face similar challenges in your own organization?

Learn more about the ideas proposed by the SALIM project team on the mobilization of partners and the foundations of data partnerships.

Cultivating Good Data Governance Practices to Reap the Benefits

"Partners at the heart of the process”

Reaching consensus on data governance with a wide range of partners is a complex task. As for data collection, it's simply impossible when data is non-existent! Hence the need to adapt evaluation indicators to reflect stakeholder realities. Such a confrontation with different data cultures prompts us to reflect on what we could each do better. 

"A variety of needs”

Through consultations with partners, it became clear that data governance is a matter of trust, collaboration and organizational culture, and not just technology. The variety of partner needs and constraints called for a flexible approach on the part of Collectif Récolte to take into account each partner's own operational reality, as well as their respective visions of data governance.

"The benefits of digital partnerships" 

In addition, partners were not always well informed about the common objectives of the SALIM project's impact measurement process, nor fully engaged during the data collection step. It was therefore proposed that Collectif Récolte consider how to improve its approach to involve stakeholders more fully. To support this process of strengthening the commitment of Collectif Récolte's partners towards data collection, Open North suggested exploring digital data partnerships focused on the food sector. Such partnerships bring organizations together around a common goal, requiring the sharing and leveraging of data as well as adherence to a common vision.
In support of this approach, Open North drafted a support document on digital data partnerships applied to the food sector. The Open North team also identified various needs for adjustment related to data collection, such as adapting indicators according to partner type, project type and variation in project advancement.

The document, produced by Open North, focuses on two areas: case studies, and suggestions for a digital food data partnership for the SALIM project. The document first presents the conditions and outcomes of two food data partnerships: the Open Food Network and the Open Data Institute & Food Waste Atlas, and is followed by a table introducing the various dimensions that a digital data partnership could cover: partnership goals, technologies, scope/scale, temporality, territoriality, legal framework, transparency, stakeholders, governance structure and mechanisms, data involved and management procedures, economic aspect, advantages/benefits. Alongside these dimensions are 51 questions to ask oneself when starting up a digital data partnership.

Such a document can therefore serve as a solid foundation for the creation of a digital data partnership applied to the food sector. The work carried out during the impact assessment phase to mobilize partners and establish relationships of trust regarding the use and sharing of data is an essential contribution to the success of such a partnership.

Rooting Good Practices Within the Organization

The sustainable integration of best practices in data governance is central to Collectif Récolte’s philosophy. The sharing of experience and ideas within the extended team, and the creation of an internal committee dedicated to data governance, have ensured the durability and institutionalization of the knowledge acquired during the targeted coaching sessions. In addition, the implementation of a confidentiality and personal information protection policy, in compliance with Bill 25, marked a major step towards improved data governance for Collectif Récolte.

This institutionalization of practices goes beyond a simple imperative linked to impact measurement through Montréal in Common: it has enabled the organization to acquire expertise that strongly resonates with its mission, therefore reinforcing the value of its service offering.

The SALIM Project's Strategies for Action

Lessons learned

  • Efficient data collection requires careful planning beforehand, and a high degree of awareness beyond the project team.
    • Successful data collection requires a clear and precise definition of objectives and expectations, as well as an overarching vision of data governance. However, maintaining some level of flexibility to adapt to each partner’s context remains essential. Raising awareness of data governance best practices and issues among all those involved facilitates the implementation of appropriate tools and processes.
  • It's important to identify low-hanging fruits without neglecting long-term strategy.
    • Starting small and achieving initial success in data governance is motivating. However, it is just as crucial to delve into your practices and understand the main principles of data governance. This practice is essential to meet your organization's long-term strategic needs. Data governance is a continuum where you discover new possibilities as you go along.

  • Trust and transparency are the cornerstones of quality data collection.
    • Commitment from participants is necessary, and requires mutual trust and transparency between stakeholders. Clarifying objectives and the use to be made of the data creates a shared vision. 

  • Seek external support to improve data governance and leverage the collective intelligence of your team.
    • Data governance is often more complex and time-consuming than might first appear. External support can speed up the implementation of best practices and effective tools. What's more, involving several team members in these transitions is beneficial, as it enables a variety of perspectives to be taken into account when thinking collectively.

The benefits of improved data governance for the SALIM project 

By actively involving its partners in the impact assessment process, Collectif Récolte has created a breeding ground for collaboration. A more robust data culture has taken root, generating valuable knowledge to guide future initiatives.

The data collected has provided Collectif Récolte’s team with invaluable information to help them identify areas for improvement and measure the impact of the SALIM's project. The transparency and trust established with their partners enabled them to obtain quality data that is in line with reality, and that feeds into Collectif Récolte's decisions, therefore demonstrating the effectiveness of the SALIM project and those of its partners. 

Future data collection operations will be less challenging given the team's tailored approach as well as the increased awareness of proper data governance practices throughout the organization and its partners.

The team's collaborative approach fosters trust between the SALIM project partners, leading to a targeted evaluation of projects that meets the needs of partners and demonstrates the importance of collecting and analyzing specific data. Given that collaboration and co-creation are the driving forces behind the SALIM project, future food projects could benefit from this mobilization and the collective strength harnessed through impact measurement.

"The targeted support sessions with Open North helped identify group synergy as an important factor in data governance."

By cultivating these ideas, the SALIM project partners have established lasting collaboration and fruitful data governance. These outcomes will benefit not only their respective projects, but also the entire Montreal food ecosystem. In particular, they encourage participation in the Évaluation en commun platform, developed at the same time as the SALIM impact measurement as part of Montréal in Common, and in which the SALIM project participates. Going further, the team could continue to reap the rewards of its efforts through the establishment of digital data partnerships: a type of initiative that brings together several organizations around a common goal and requires the sharing and leveraging of data. The success of such a partnership hinges on one crucial element: adherence to a shared vision. A digital data partnership for the food sector could emerge, contributing to the common good and solving complex problems through the strategic use of data.

Concluding remarks

To find out more about data partnerships, see our Praxis note on the subject.

*All pictures will be translated shortly

About the Montréal in Common Data Governance Workstream 

As the lead of the Data Governance Workstream within Montréal in Common, Open North proposes a data governance journey to the innovation community in order to progressively operationalize the principles of the City of Montreal's Digital Data Charter. The program explicitly focuses on collecting, sharing and leveraging data to inform collective and individual decision-making. 

Montréal in Common brings together an innovation community led by the City of Montréal, whose partners are experimenting with solutions in food access, mobility and municipal regulations in a desire to rethink the metropolis. Thirteen projects are being implemented as part of Montréal in Common thanks to the $50 million prize awarded to the city by the Government of Canada as part of the Smart Cities Challenge.

Did you like this blog post? Would you like to know more about data governance? Not sure where to start? Find other resources, free training courses and more on our website: 

Author: Open North
Research and editorial contributions: Alexandra Gellé, Jérémy Diaz and Logan Penvern (Collectif Récolte)
We extend our thanks to all our partners and clients, whose work continuously expands and evolves our understanding of data governance and its best practices.

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27 juin 2024 15:56

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Pour citer cette note

Nord Ouvert, Collectif Récolte. (2024). Mobilizing Partners and Collecting Data: the SALIM Project Team's Approach to Impact Measurement. Praxis (consulté le 21 juillet 2024),