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Using Surveys in Continuous Improvement

This PDF from Pennsylvania State University’s Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment explores the method, meaning, and value of conducting surveys for data collection in continuous improvement. Surveys, according to the PDF, aren’t always necessary to gather the data (consider for instance looking at access records rather than asking employees if they use certain programs), but when a survey is needed they can become a powerful tool for advanced data collection. Along with explaining the initial decisions of who to survey and why, the PDF also describes the values of survey results: Valid, meaningful surveys provide an effective means for teams to obtain stakeholder input, but require much time and effort from team members. Before undertaking a survey, teams should consider whether the data can be collected in other ways. If surveys are necessary, it is important that potential sources of error be minimized. To achieve this, teams must ensure that: persons surveyed represent the true population under study; respondents accurately understand the questions asked; people are willing to participate in the survey process; and, the results are analyzed objectively. There is a great focus in many organisations on “hard” data collection, but the value of asking employees what they thing is going right and wrong is paramount. Surveys can show early warning signs in projects, optimization opportunities, and provide a clear way forward for any company.  

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