What to Look for When Buying Survey Software
Match Functionality to Your Goals
Surveys can provide valuable information and insight into how customers and users perceive a product or service, and deliver accurate data on what particular features are working best and what might need improvement. But administering these surveys without a good survey software package is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process.
Survey software helps to relieve some of the difficulties inherent in administering a survey, and there are several survey software packages available. When reviewing these products, first consider the goals of the survey and what you hope to get out of it. To begin with, one of the most important things to consider is the flexibility the user has in creating the survey. Maximum flexibility should be afforded in terms of the overall design, as well as how it is administered, and the questions themselves. The surveyor may also wish to set restrictions with a survey, which may involve techniques such as skip branching to allow certain questions to appear only when certain responses to earlier questions have been made.
On the back end, there should be solid analytical tools for processing the results and transforming them into usable information. Strong statistical tools should be part of the program. It is common for a survey tool to include tools for creating simple charts and graphs, although more sophisticated features may also be desirable, such as cross-tabulation charts, or standard deviation calculations. The resulting charts and other illustrations should be easy to read and understand, and should include the ability to export into standard office suites.
The software too should include several options for distribution. Surveys should be able to be conducted online through either email or a Web-based interface, but there should also be a facility for allowing them to be conducted in person. And of course, the survey software should exhibit good ease of use, both for the interview subject and for the analyst conducting the survey.
There is still another decision to make in deciding on a type of survey software; and that is whether to deploy it internally or use a hosted model. While the in-house model is installed on a company server, a hosted model does offer some more flexibility in terms of access.
Survey software is often quite affordable, but before buying, be aware of the hardware requirements as well as whether any additional add-on modules will be required to achieve the level of functionality desired.