As the oversight of supply chain expands, the department is increasingly tasked with developing innovative solutions for varying issues across an organization. Many times, these initiatives involve numerous departments, positions, and responsibilities. It is often difficult to gauge the pulse or opinions such a diverse group of stakeholders have regarding a specific topic, process, department, or initiative. However, using a sruvey can open up that communication, gauge perceptions, uncover underlying information and context, and inform a plan to move a particular project or initiative forward. But, what are factors that should be considered during survey creation?
- Determine the Correct Audience
A good first step to conducting a survey is to identify what group or groups to target. Most often, this will be the stakeholders affected by the subject matter of the survey. It can also be audience of internal supply chain folks, personnel outside of the department, or a mixture of both. For example, a survey gauging clinical interest in value analysis committees would be allotted to a clinical audience—physicians and nursing leaders across the various units of patient care. A survey seeking vendor performance feedback would be distributed internally to purchasers and receivers. While, as a third example, a questionnaire seeking input on the credibility of the supply chain department would benefit from feedback from both groups.
- Consider Question Types
While developing surveys, it’s common to have the end result in mind—what information is hoped to be learned. What’s often less considered, is how to get there. The formation of questions is key to getting valuable information, so it’s important to consider the types of and differences between open- and closed-ended questions. Closed-ended questions are questions that can be answered with a single word or a short phrase. Some examples are “yes/no,” multiple choice, or ranked scale questions. Closed-ended questions are helpful in that the limited response options results in sound data; they also make surveys easy for the taker. On the other hand, they don’t allow for the context driving the answer. Open-ended questions, such as “What are your expectations for a value analysis committee?” require a long-form answer. This makes the survey more time consuming to take, but also allows for detail and background information. Both types of questions can appear on the same survey.
- Contemplate Delivery Format
Once the questions are created and aggregated, there are a few ways surveys can be distributed. The traditional way of conducting surveys is through paper distribution—a hard copy of the questionnaire is given to each taker. The main pro to this method is easy access—there’s no barrier to filling it out. It can be filled out on the spot, such as during a meeting, to deliver immediate responses and data. It can also be branded with the organization’s logo, communicating authority and importance. However, results can be difficult to aggregate manually and hard copies can also be wasteful, as there is no guarantee the survey recipient will fill it out and return it.
Another option is to distribute surveys electronically. There are numerous online survey tools, such as SurveyMonkey and Google Forms, available for free. These are typically easy to navigate and electronic distribution and collection is handy. Additionally, many of these will tally responses automatically. Potential downsides include character limits for open-ended questions, getting lost in email folders, and the technology requirement.
- Determine How Results Will Be Put Into Action
Surveys are best conducted with purpose—a clear vision on how the results will inform actionable decisions. In keeping with the same examples, a clinician-facing survey on value analysis could be used for several purposes—it can help understand clinicians’ familiarity with the concept of value analysis, gauge willingness to work with supply chain, and identify potential champions. Answers to questions on a vendor performance survey could be leveraged into risk-sharing agreements, if negative ,or can advise which vendors might deserve long-term engagement, if positive. And a supply chain credibility survey can inform what internal process improvements need to happen.