Surveying Best Practices: Begin at the End

Creating a survey is a lot like taking a trip: there's a definite start, and there's always a finish.  Before you even start to write that first question of your survey, here's a few things you might want to consider.

1) Who will see the results of this survey?
  Often times, those who are expecting to see clear and concise results from your survey are not even considered when writing survey questions.  Will your data stay within a particular department, or will it be run up the flagpole to directors or C-level employees?  Perhaps the results will even be the basis of a publication or news article?

2) Who will work with the survey data?
  These days, almost anyone can put an online survey together, but have you considered the person responsible for analysis of the data after it has been collected?  Do they have an understanding of charts, tables, percentages and frequencies? 

3) What is the basis for conducting this survey?
  What is the survey's business driver, and how will the data be used in your business?

4) What data points will satisfy that business purpose you've identified?
  Ensure that answer choices, particularly survey rating scales, are providing enough data points to clearly provide insight into your objective.

5) What are the best ways to ask about and to measure those data points?
  Have you crafted the appropriate questions to collect the desired data points to satisfy your goal?

Maintaining a "begin at the end" thought process is crucial to crafting an effective survey.  If you ask yourself these five questions before, you'll see vast improvements in the performance of your surveys.
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