Trying to figure out what I (will) do as a freelancer

One: Evaluating stuff

People get funding to deliver projects that aim to do something. My role will be to work with those people to understand if the something happened and, crucially, how it happened (if indeed it did). This will involve working with people up front to make sure that ways of measuring these things are in place from the start. I expect this to be something I do a fair bit. It’s something that I already have lined up with Action for Elders. And it’s something I have a lot of experience with — see the NHS Widening Digital Participation programme as an example.

  • Understanding the project
  • Creating logic models to describe the anticipated process of how change will come about, for whom and in what circumstance
  • Developing evaluation frameworks to test the logic model
  • Carrying out the data collection (quantitative and qualitative) set out in the evaluation framework
  • Analysing the data to tell the story of the project or programme
  • Creating appropriate evaluation outputs — reports, maps, case studies, practical guides etc.

Two: Data modelling to support better project delivery and enhance funding applications

What is the need we’re trying to address? Why do we know it needs addressing? Where is that need? How can we structure a programme around that need/place? How do we deploy our resources within that structure? How could we communicate the impact and value of the programme? How can we best visualise this information?

  1. It creates a clear, evidence-based rationale for doing something;
  2. It can support the creation of a clearer, more efficient model for delivering a project or intervention;
  3. It bolsters the validity and credibility of a funding application.

Three: Supporting the development of data teams within organisations

One of the things I am most proud of in my recent work history is that Good Things Foundation now has a dedicated Data Insights Team. It’s still very much in its infancy, but it acts as a bridge between the research team and the digital team. More importantly, it gives the organisation a dedicated conduit through which it can think better about the way it tells its stories of what it does — robustly, consistently and in a joined up way.

Four: Designing, delivering and managing research projects

Taking a(n often vague) question, refining it and then figuring out the best way to answer it, both from a methodological perspective but also how that can be best managed as a process. This is something I enjoy immensely and hope to do more of.

  1. Digital Motivation: a mixed methods, short term research project exploring the reasons people are offline in partnership with Good Things Foundation, BT and University of Liverpool (I also wrote about this here);
  2. Digital skills for health professionals: a test and learn project as part of the Sheffield City Region Perfect Patient Pathway Test Bed to pilot a training programme for health professionals so that they can better support patients with digital health tools (I also wrote about this here).

Five: Strategic and operational data design

What do we do as an organisation? How do we know we’re doing this? How do we know if we need to change something to be better placed to reach our organisational objectives and outcomes for the people with whom we work?

  • Survey design and working on associated processes
  • Creating ‘dashboards’ for management information
  • Developing organisational outcome frameworks and logic models
  • Developing measurement frameworks and selecting appropriate indicators

There will also be things I’ll be doing but not being paid for…

I will, of course, be carrying on with Sheffield Data for Good. We’re always open for ideas on how to collaborate, so please get in touch.


** Not a response I have actually given, but also not a million miles off.



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Tom French

Tom French


Data, insight and questioning strategies for social purpose through open working | Founded Sheffield Data for Good + Data for Action | Musician