02 Dec 2014

Surveys: An ABC Guide, part 6

Spending your time correctly on a survey

Spending your time correctly on a survey

Never underestimate the time needed to carry out survey work properly. The cost estimate is also something that beginners and experienced survey designers alike can get wrong. In this part, we provide suggestions as to how you can spend your time and costs to best effect using the two checklists below. It gives you a working summary of time spent, elapsed time and costs that may arise with the work, thus giving you greater control over your survey project.

Firstly – do not skimp with your time estimates! Planning tends to take somewhat longer than you imagine. Careless preparation may mean you end up throwing money down the drain, and the time you have spent has then been to no avail.

The checklist for time contains two different types of time estimates. The first is the exact number of hours spent on the task. The second is the elapsed time from starting the task to it being complete – including breaks, nights, other tasks, etc.

Sometimes these times may coincide, while other times they may not. You will probably have a number of tasks to do during the day as well as carrying out surveys, and you will need to divide your time among the various tasks.

For example: Analysing the survey results perhaps takes you eight hours. However, due to other work perhaps you can only spend two hours a day on this. In that case, the time spent would be eight hours and the elapsed time four days.

The final time estimate is achieved by adding the times. The figure for time spent may then be useful for your budget work, while the elapsed time can be useful if you wish to draw up a flowchart or timetable.


Checklist for elapsed time. (Hours from to inclusive)

√ Specify the aim of your survey

√ Design the structure of the survey and the questions

√ Design the survey in graphical terms

√ Choose a target group

√ Write an introduction for your future respondents

√ Conduct a pilot test

√ Revise the design of the survey (if necessary)

√ Send it out and wait to receive the responses

√ Try to chase up those who do not respond

√ Collate the data and interpret the answers to the open questions

√ Analyse the results

√ Compile a report

√ Communicate the report to those affected

Checklist for time taken

This checklist relates only to surveys conducted on the Internet or by email. For traditional mailing by letter there are a number of additional costs, such as envelopes, printing, stamps, front page design, etc.

√ Hours

√ Collection of email addresses or purchase of mail list

√ Graphic design of survey

√ Cost of, or licence for, survey tool

√ Any assistance required for writing the text for the survey

√ Statistical analysis program and consultancy service for data analysis

√ Distribution of the final report

√ Gift or reward to those taking part in the survey

√ Other costs specific to your survey