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Thursday, September 5 • 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Beyond "Make vs. Buy": Making MERL Tech Work for YOU

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Creating useful software for development and humanitarian professionals is an imperfect science, and we don’t always get it right. In this session, panelists with very different approaches to providing MERL software will talk about how the sausage gets made. For the first half, we’ll share why we often end up disappointing clients or telling users ‘no’ from our experiences at companies past and present. We’ll also provide insight on different business models and delivery mechanisms (open/closed source, products/services, SaaS/custom, etc.) to equip the buyers/users of software to make the very best decisions and establish fruitful partnerships with their vendors. During the second half, our moderator will field questions from the audience and facilitate an open dialogue about frustrations and tough decisions from both sides. There will be no presentations, no pitching, no self-promotion. Any anecdotes or success stories will be leavened with failures, lost clients, self-deprecation, etc. Panelists will try to humbly and truthfully describe where their business models and the needs of prospective users may conflict, and how to manage that tension. Participants in this session will leave with a fuller understanding of how software companies operate, how various business models work in practice, and why finding the 'perfect' MERL tech solution is sometimes so dang frustrating.

avatar for Sherri Haas

Sherri Haas

Sr. Technical Advisor, Digital Health, MSH
Sherri Haas serves as Senior Technical Advisor, Digital Health & Health Economics at MSH. Her work focuses on data-driven systems strengthening, with technical experience in digital health, research and evaluation, and digital solutions to increase access to financial services. Ms... Read More →
avatar for Christopher Robert

Christopher Robert

Founder and CEO, Dobility I SurveyCTO
Dr. Christopher Robert is a technologist, an entrepreneur, an economist, a researcher, and a lecturer. As a technologist and entrepreneur, he: founded Dobility, Inc., which produces SurveyCTO, an electronic data collection platform used worldwide by leading researchers and evaluation... Read More →
avatar for Vidya Mahadevan

Vidya Mahadevan

Senior Advisor, M&E and DHIS2, Bluesquare
Vidya Mahadevan is a DC-based M&E and DHIS 2 Advisor at Bluesquare with 10+ years of experience supporting health programs from the field and across humanitarian emergency and development settings. Vidya has expertise in M&E, designing and implementing field research surveys, and... Read More →
avatar for Reid Porter

Reid Porter

Director of Data Strategy, DevResults
Talk to me about all things open data, transparency, and results measurement.

Thursday September 5, 2019 2:30pm - 3:30pm EDT
Academy Hall A FHI 360 Conference Center, 1825 Connecticut Ave, 8th Floor, Washington, DC
  Tech and Traditional MERL, 1 Hour Break Out
  • session type Panel, Discussion