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Administer a Needs Survey

The moment of truth – administering your survey!!!

You have gone through determining the scope of your survey, written the questions, beta tested your survey, adjusted questions and answers that were unclear, and beta tested it a second time (you didn’t skip that step did you???).  Now it is time to have people take your survey for real – start to collect real data!!

QuestionaireThere are several considerations about administering your survey to look at.  Those include day or days to have people take the survey, the time of day, the setting, and any technical requirements.  Every organization will have answer to these considerations but the following are some general data and observations that may help you administer a better survey.  First, let’s start with some research on best days and times to administer a survey.

Survey Monkey’s research from 2011 covered both external and internal surveys:

External surveys (clients and businesses outside of your organization):
Best Day:         Monday                      Worst Day:      Friday

Internal surveys (staff/employees/contractors inside of your organization):
Best Day:         Monday                      Worst Day:      Thursday

Check Market’s research from 2014 covered both business to business and business to consumer surveys and invites.  For this post I will focus on business to business data:

Short surveys (less than 15 minutes):
Best Day:         Monday                      Worst Day:      Tuesday (Excluding weekends)

Long surveys (more than 15 minutes):
Best Day:         Friday              Worst Day:      Thursday (Excluding weekends)

Best time of day to send surveys:
Monday                      0:00 – 11:59 & 15:00 – 17:59
Thursday and Friday   15:00 -17:59

Did that clear it up for you?  Not so much?  OK, let’s tie this all together with what we have already talked about.  First the data presented here was for invitations sent via email asking people to participate in a digital/online survey.  Survey Monkey’s data is older but it does include sending invites to people in their organization, not just clients.  Neither source gave the number of days that surveys available but both implied that participants had more than one day to complete to the survey.  So again, what does all this mean to me?  Let’s talk about digital/online surveys first.

Administering digital surveys

  • In my experience, short surveys should run for 3-5 days and I may send a reminder just before the last day.
  •  I have had more success with shorter surveys than longer ones.
  • I like to send out the invite Monday afternoon and give people until Friday to complete the survey (OK, really I rarely close it until Monday morning but don’t tell anyone).
  • I will usually send out a reminder sometime Thursday to get the final responses.
  • If I construct the survey correctly I can have some initial data results by Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week to report to stakeholders.  Because of this quick turn-a-round, I prefer to run digital surveys because it makes data analysis much easier.

Administering paper survey:

There are times when participants won’t be able to access a digital survey or I have been instructed to force a 100% response rate.  For those times I will use a paper survey.  Timing and location can be important to the quality of your data.  Asking people to fill out a survey when they are standing around in a lobby during the after conference mixer with a drink in their hand won’t get good data for your survey.

Paper surveys are usually administered at a staff meeting or similar event so timing can be an issue.  If surveys are administered the last thing before the meeting/event ends, the response may be influenced by participant’s desire to get out the door to their next thing.  If possible, have the survey administered as a break or additional activity during the meeting especially if it can be tied into topic.

Bring lots of pens or pencils because many participants won’t have their own.  Also don’t expect to get all of your pen or pencils back at the end.

Try to administer the survey at a time when people have something to write on – a desk, table, but even a notebook is better than trying to write on their knee.  Making the participants uncomfortable or unhappy while completing your survey may influence their answers.

Make sure that the surveys are readable.  Saving paper is a good thing but not if it means inaccurate data.  Make sure the font is large enough and easy to read (don’t use Wingdings).  Also the lighting makes a difference so bring the house lights up from presentation mode so people know who’s survey they are filling out.

Make sure your participants know where/how to turn in the surveys when they are done.  It may be a box or a sign on a table and tell them about it.

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