Developing a data collection platform: Vendor evaluation form

This resource is the form used by Open Society Foundations’ Economic Justice Program team to evaluate potential vendors to design and implement a new data platform for MEL.

This resource is part of the MEL toolkit for grantmakers and grantees resource collection.

Authors and their affiliation

Megan Colnar, Jay Locke, and Stephanie Lucas (Economic Justice Program MEL Team, Open Society Foundations)

Key features of the vendor evaluation form

In 2018, the MEL team in the Open Society Foundations’ Economic Justice Program set out to design and implement a new data platform that could be used across the program to monitor progress and assess impact. The aim was to have an all-in-one data management system that staff could use to store, access, analyze, and visualize organizational and results data. The system would align individual indicators from different sources (e.g. grantee MEL frameworks, financial and contract data) with those from strategic frameworks to show how individual data points contributed to larger programmatic and operational goals. With this knowledge, the program would have the tools to routinely use evidence in decision-making—specifically adapting activities and strategies to amplify impact and/or reduce harm. The DREAM Platform was also designed to make it easy for staff to share this knowledge with stakeholders and partners both internally and externally, encouraging a more participatory, collaborative way of working.

This resource is the form used by the EJP team to evaluate potential vendors to build the platform.

How have you used or intend on using this vendor evaluation form?

This form helped the EJP team to assess the strength of proposals from potential DREAM Platform vendors according to a set of criteria necessary for this innovative platform to serve the myriad purposes for which it was designed.

In 2021, a vendor was selected, and the DREAM Platform (Database for and Results & Analysis Management) was designed. The EJP MEL team started a small pilot to test the platform functionalities to learn about what is needed, from both technical and people-related aspects. Due to internal changes, this information will be used to develop and implement a different, but similar, database for the wider organization.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

While any organization seeking to implement a data management platform or system would need to assess its own needs, this evaluation framework can provide useful insights and reflection points for organizations seeking to strengthen and integrate MEL data collection and analysis practices across their programs.


Colnar, M., Locke, J. & Lucas, S. (2021). Developing a data collection platform: vendor evaluation form. Retrieved from