The term ‘scaling’ is increasingly popular in international development efforts, but how to scale in practice? The Scaling Scan helps you to develop more realistic scaling ambitions and identify points of attention for a successful scaling strategy.
Scaling is the process of expanding beneficial technologies or practices over geographies and across organizations to impact larger numbers of people. Reaching impact at scale is gaining importance, especially in light of the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The popularity of the term, however, has not yet been matched by a high level of conceptual clarity or depth of approaches. In PPPLab’s Explorations 4 and Insight Series 6, we tried to unpack the concept of scaling and made it more understandable and actionable.
To help PPPs strengthening their scaling strategies in practice, PPPLab in cooperation with CIMMYT also developed a practical tool which can be used individually or in workshop settings. The tool was developed in 2017 on basis of ongoing research of both organizations on how development initiatives scale in practice.
Several test runs have been carried out in the Netherlands, Mexico, Kenya, India and Nepal with project managers, scientists, agricultural extension agents and other development practitioners working in the agrifood and rural water supply sectors. This provided valuable input which allowed us to make considerable improvements in the applicability, user-friendliness and usefulness in the final version.
The Scaling Scan fills the niche between having (at least) a general idea of what should scale where (for example when a donor requests a proposal for adoption of a technology) and having a detailed scaling strategy ready for implementation. The Scaling Scan helps to:
- Fully understand what scaling your innovation would require;
- Facilitate an exploration about the challenges scaling your innovation is likely to face and the opportunities it can leverage;
- Identify points of attention that should be addressed in the scaling strategy; and
- Monitor and learn how the scalability of the project changes over time.
The Scaling Scan uses the ten scaling ingredients shown below, as a central focus to open up a rich understanding of what scaling your solution may require.
Please note that the Scaling Scan is not a design tool; it rather provides a snapshot in time identifying current opportunities and challenges for your scaling strategy. The assessment can be filled in regularly by project teams to monitor progress in addressing the challenges.
You can download an Excel version of the Scaling Scan here. This Excel version can be uploaded in Google Sheets to allow teams to fill out the tool simultaneously during facilitated workshops and discussions.
We encourage the use of this tool by anybody (with appropriate referencing). As you use the tool, we would be very happy if you could share your experiences. Also, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.
- Jan Ubels, MT member PPPLab, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Floortje Jacobs, advisor PPPLab, email@example.com
- Lennart Woltering, scaling expert CIMMYT, firstname.lastname@example.org