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Prototyping OCDS data using spreadsheets. Part III

In this post for our technical series, we look at how to adapt the spreadsheet template for your needs. Check out part 1 on this series that explains the need and tools for creating a pilot OCDS dataset using spreadsheets and part 2 that looks at how to create a template and how to use it to enter, check and convert data.

To adapt the spreadsheet template for your needs, first you’ll need to carry out a mapping between the source data and the fields in OCDS.

Mapping template
Use the field-level mapping template and accompanying guidance to document a mapping between your data and OCDS.

With the mapping completed, the next step is to add the OCDS fields identified in the mapping to the input sheet of the spreadsheet template. Remember to copy the template columns sheet in the example to get the correct formatting and validation for each field type in OCDS.

One to many relationships
If your data contains one to many relationships (for example multiple awards resulting from a single tender) you may need to add extra input sheets to the spreadsheet template. For more information on how to do this, refer to the instructions sheet of the example template and the OCDS documentation on serialization.

Now the template should be ready for you to enter your data.


Spreadsheets can offer a quick way to create a pilot dataset, particularly for an implementation team with good spreadsheet skills but without easy access to software development resources.

This approach is best used where the source dataset is simple in structure and not too large, as complex spreadsheets can be unwieldy and error prone, whilst datasets with tens, or hundreds of thousands of rows can be slow to manipulate.

Spreadsheets also offer an easy route to collaboration, particularly when using online tools such as Google Sheets or Office 365 or where manual data input is required from different team members.

Creating a pilot OCDS dataset in a spreadsheet can also provide an easy means of prototyping indicators, visualizations and dashboards based on the data, using the charting features available in most spreadsheet packages.

Ultimately, creating a sustainable and scalable OCDS publication is likely to require software development, however spreadsheets can be a useful tool to help understand the requirements for the development of a publication system.

Get in touch with our helpdesk for any questions and to share your work.

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