2. Collecting the information

Once you have decided how to collect the information you want, you need to plan your ‘fieldwork’.

It is important to decide at the outset who is going to be responsible for obtaining the different pieces of information. If you can, try to make use of the skills or connections of your team members

You should also think carefully about timescales. If you plan to undertake surveys or interviews you will need to allow time to pilot them. Where you are asking other organisations to supply you with data you may need to give them some time to compile it in the form you want. You will also have to allow for the possibility that some of the information will not be available and so you will need to consider alternatives.

It can be helpful to use the process of collecting the information as a chance for the team to learn new skills, and get to know colleagues in other organisations. It can also provide an opportunity to learn from and involve patients and the wider community. This can be particularly valuable if you are looking at the needs of a group or community who feel that in the past they have had little say in the services they receive.

This process can be almost as important as the information itself, and if handled well can lay good foundations for future work or relationships.

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