Survey and questionnaires in business analysis

Business analysts use surveys and questionnaires to gather business analysis information such as information on customers, products, policies, and cultures from the stakeholders.

Surveys and questionnaires are used to present a set of questions to the stakeholders, whose responses are then collected and analyzed in order to understand the subject matter.

The questions can be submitted in written form or other forms such as in person or over the telephone.

There are two types of questions used in a survey or questionnaire, which are:

Close-ended: with these types of questions the responder is asked to select from a list of preset responses, such as a Yes/No response, a multiple-choice selection, a rank/ order decision, or a statement requiring a level of agreement.

This is useful when the expected range of user responses are reasonably clear-cut and understood. Close-ended questions responses are easier to analyze because they are usually yes or no questions.

Open-ended: with these types of questions the respondent is asked to answer questions in a free form without having to select an answer from a list of preset responses. Open-ended questions are used when the issues are known and the range of user responses is not.

Open-ended questions lead to more detail and a wider range of responses than closed-ended questions. The responses to open-ended questions are more difficult and time-consuming to categorize, quantify, and summarize as they are disorganised and may include subjective language with redundant content.

In order to get objective responses the survey or questionnaire questions should be asked in a way that does not affect the response data. They should be communicated in neutral language and should not be structured to direct the respondent to provide discern desirable answers.

To prepare a survey or questionnaire, the following steps should be taken:

1 Prepare: an effective survey or questionnaire needs detailed planning in order to ensure that the needed information is acquired in an systematic manner.

When preparing for a survey or questionnaire, the business analysts do the following:

Define the objective: a clear objective explains the reason for the survey or questionnaire. Questions should be prepared prepared with the aim of meeting the objective.

Define the target survey group: identifying the group to be surveyed in
terms of population size and any discerned differences such as culture, language, or location can help identify factors that can affect the survey design.

Choose the appropriate survey or questionnaire type: the objective of
the survey or questionnaire is to decide on a suitable mix of close-ended questions and open-ended questions to gather the necessary information.

Select the sample group: examine both the survey or questionnaire and the number of people in the identified user group to decide they are all required.

If the population size is large and the survey type is open-ended, it may be
necessary to identify a subset of users to engage in the questionnaire

Select the distribution and collection methods: decide on the right communication method for each sample group.

Set the target level and timeline for response: decide what response rate is acceptable and when it should be considered complete. If the actual response rate is lower than the acceptable threshold, the use of the survey results may be limited.

Determine if the survey or questionnaire should be supported with
individual interviews:
as a survey or questionnaire does not provide the detail that can be gotten from individual interviews, the business analyst should consider using either pre- or post-survey or questionnaire interviews.

Write the survey questions: ensure that all the questions support the
expressed objectives.

Test the survey or questionnaire: use a functionality test to identify any errors and opportunities for improvement.

2 Distribute the survey or questionnaire: when distributing the survey or questionnaire it is important to convey the survey’s objectives, how the results will be used, as well as any preparations that have been made for confidentiality or anonymity.

When deciding on a mode of distribution for example, in-person, e-mail, or survey tool, business analysts consider the following:

  • the urgency to obtain the results.
  • the level of required security .
  • the geographic distribution of the responders.

3. Document the results: when recording the results of the survey or questionnaire, the business analyst should do the following

  • Collect the responses.
  • Sum up the results.
  • Assess the details and identify any prominent themes.
  • Create categories for encrypting the data.
  • Decompose the data into quantifiable increments.

Surveys and questionnaires has its strengths and limitations, which include the following:

• They are quick and cheap to conduct.
• It is easier to collect information from a larger audience than with other elicitation techniques such as interviews.
• It does not usually require significant time commitment from the responders.
• It is an effective and efficient technique especially if the stakeholders are geographically dispersed.
• Surveys can used to get measurable data especially when close -ended questions are used.
• When open-ended questions are used, the survey results can provide additional insights and opinions.

• To get unbiased results, the business analyst has to have some specialized skills in statistical sampling methods.
• The response rates may be too low to provide measurable data.
• The use of open-ended questions requires further analysis.
• Ambivalent questions may be left unanswered or answered incorrectly.
• It may need follow-up questions or more survey repetition depending on the answers provided.