6 Areas to Consider when Developing a Survey Project Plan

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Why is it important to develop a plan for your online survey?

A survey begins when an individual or organization is challenged with a business problem and the existing data, if accessible, has inadequate data. At this moment, the survey researcher or survey research team will need to consider if the necessary data can be collected by administering a survey, and in what mode: paper survey, online survey, mobile survey, etc. If the requirements include: responses from a number of people; quick turnaround on results; and collect specific information to support a business decision, then an online survey is the most appropriate method of data collection.

A well-planned survey project plan will help focus your plan objectives, map your implementation, and prepare you for data analysis. Proper planning will result in an effective and efficient survey project plan. Gathering the data you need will allow you to focus on implementing well-supported business decisions.

A clearly devised survey project plan will answer the following questions:    

  1. What will we learn from the survey? – Will the survey generate the data that answers our questions?
  2. How long will the project take from start to finish – how much time do we need to invest?
  3. How much will we need to invest in the survey – how much will it cost?

6 Areas to Consider when Developing a Survey Project Plan

When writing a survey project plan, the following areas should be taken into consideration:

1. Survey Value

Survey value depends on three main factors, which include:

  • A clear definition of the business decisions you need to implement
  • The comparative cost of making an error in those decisions
  • The amount of ambiguity the survey will reduce

This stage of planning will help outline the importance of your project, and justify costs to colleagues.

2. Survey Cost

You certainly don’t want to exceed your budget, nor do you want to find out that you went over budget after the survey has been completed. With any survey, there will always be associated costs. Some methods, however, are more economical than others. There are three major costs that you can incur, including costs for:

  • Creating the survey instrument
  • Inviting respondents and persuade them to participate (in some cases, you may need to purchase a panel sample)
  • Data entry and analysis – if you decide that a paper survey is the best data collection method for your audience. Paper surveys, mailed surveys, or telephone surveys. Online surveys do not include costs for printing, postage, handing, call personnel, or data entry staff.

3. Define the Project

Plan the basics of the survey process and define the project. Set a measurable objective to determine the effectiveness of your survey. For example, if you are administering an online survey for your online advertising campaign, your objective may be: measure site visitor demographics every day for the next six weeks to monitor how effective the online advertising campaign is reaching our target audience. Within the definition phase, you’ll want to:

  • Calculate how long the survey will take, including time to invite the respondents
  • Determine how you are going to invite your respondents to take the survey
  • Collect data
  • Enter results (manual data entry or scanning of paper surveys)

4. Define the Audience

Your target audience could include your customers, clients, prospects, employees, members, students, or even a paid survey panel.  Concentrate on the sample size – what is the required number of respondents you would need for your analysis to be valid and accurate? Bear in mind that all the people who you invite to take your survey more than likely will not all response to your survey. You will need to estimate a survey response rate. Paper-based and mail-based surveys have an average response rate in the low 2 to 3 percent range, and telephone surveys can yield results in the ten percent range. Online surveys typically sent via e-mail which contains a link to the survey. An online survey method allows participants to respond at their convenience, producing significantly higher response rates.

5. Define the Project Team

Identify the internal resources you may need to complete the survey process. This is dependent on your organization as well as the kind of survey you are conducting. You may need assistance from other departments such as Human Resources, IT, or Market Research.  If internal resources are not available, you may want to seek a third party survey research company. Many survey software providers provide this service.

6. Project Timeline

Preparing a project timeline will help organize the list of tasks necessary to complete the survey and delegate those tasks to specific people in your organization. A timeline will help you maintain control over the entire survey process.

Developing a survey plan will guide and coordinate the tasks necessary to start and complete your survey successfully. Each survey project is unique. Utilizing a standardized planning tool will help you get the results you need from your surveys.

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