Data Collection Methods: Electronic Surveys vs. Print Surveys

mobile data collectionElectronic survey software implementation and usage are growing steadily around the world – for good reason. Not only do electronic surveys and digital data collection methods save time, but they also lead to higher quality responses as well as a reduction in paper waste. Cutting down paper is not only a cost savings benefit for your organization, it is also a great way to help the environment and reduce waste. More advantages and disadvantages of electronic and paper surveys are detailed below.

Advantages of Electronic Survey Software Data Collection:

Answer and Response Quality

When survey respondents are given a paper survey, using paper and pencil requires both time and thought to fully provide their responses. Take on the other hand, an electronic survey. With the electronic survey, typing is much more time efficient and provides the survey respondents the opportunity to expand on his or her thoughts within the same time frame. Beware: Some survey participants use electronic surveys as a shortcut and quickly speed through all of the answers by simply clicking the same button over and over. Use a time tracking device to calculate how long the participant spends on each survey. This tool will provide the information necessary to spot faulty surveys.

Capture Attention!

With today’s technology-driven world, many people are interested in faster and more efficient methods. With that mindset, it creates a world in which our minds tend to float around and not stay focused on any one task for too long. This creates an issue when trying to collect survey data. As survey collectors, we want our survey respondents to stay focused and provide us with their full attention throughout the duration of the surveying activity. A great way to help capture survey respondents’ attention is to imbed videos, pictures and charts into the surveys. There are 2 key advantages of this:

  1. Providing extra information and background information to help inform the participant.
  2. Adding visual and verbal elements makes the survey more interesting and captures attention.

Disadvantages of Electronic Survey Software Data Collection:

Survey Requirements and Context

With electronic forms, survey respondents are not able to quickly scan through electronic surveys to comprehend length and contents. Therefore unlike paper surveys, participants are not able to gage how long it will take them to complete the survey nor understand the type of questions that will be asked of them. Tip: When using electronic surveys, be very specific and upfront about the time expectations as well as the contents of the survey.

Technology Bias

Survey response bias is a critical factor that must be taken into account when conducting electronic surveys. Here’s why: When using mobile data collection devices, the surveyor is most likely to receive confirmations from individuals that are technology savvy. For some individuals, the technology itself may be a deterrent for taking the survey. Thus, a portion of the population is being excluded from the survey data if they automatically are opting out due to unease with technology. At the same time however, technology and its applications are growing exponentially and a majority of the population is implementing technology.

Help your organization gather more survey data with increased accuracy. Check out COMMANDmobile to learn more about the state of the art data collection and survey software technologies that are available to you.

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About DeAnna Davidson

DeAnna Davidson is a proven technologist and business leader who is passionate about the power of mobile computing to revolutionize a business or industry, and dedicated to helping organizations use mobile, wireless, and web technologies to their advantage.


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