Does your organization avoid surveys like the plague? This may be easier to change than you think. By understanding the importance of constructing a quality survey, you can use this powerful tool to gather valuable insight to prepare for a smoother ERP system go-live. Don’t overlook the benefit in providing employees the opportunity to express their opinions. We recently had a 98% response rate to a survey, which indicated an overwhelming interest in being heard! Surveys can be a tangible way to demonstrate strong leadership, one that believes in learning and making improvements through establishing a closer partnership with their employees.

First Steps

  • Eliminate the negative word “survey” from your vocabulary – Instead, propose to solicit “targeted feedback” for the purpose of improving your ERP implementation. The words “employee survey” can make even the most progressive management groan.
  • Position the survey to come from high profile leadership – Take advantage of the opportunity to convey influential messages from top leadership.
  • Understand the organization’s survey history – How have they been used in the past, and what were the resulting perceptions? Was the survey painfully long and cumbersome to complete? Did the results put someone in the hot seat?
  • Be realistic about your organization’s ability and willingness to open the doors for suggestion (i.e. criticism) – Along with the negative, there will be the useful and positive. The reluctance to give voice to possible dissenters is one of the main reasons for survey resistance.
  • Consider segmenting responses from your major populations – It can be very revealing to analyze the difference in perceptions between types of system users, functional areas, length of service, and level of position within the organization.

Tips For Success

  • Define your audience and objectives – This sounds obvious, but you can expect to find a wide range of opinions regarding what will truly be useful in planning. Are you trying to assess satisfaction with current or past projects? Are you trying to identify populations of negativity, so that you can address them specifically? Are you trying to determine whether your employees understand project objectives and are ready to tackle the upcoming challenges?
  • Use a web-based survey tool like SurveyMonkey – This will provide ease in completion and result compilation.
  • Be concise- Strive for the shortest and most user-friendly survey possible.
  • Ask the right questions – Ask questions that will give exact information to support your planning.
  • Use open-ended question sparingly – They can provide depth to your summary, but take time to analyze.
  • Include a powerful introduction – Prepare an intro that gives context for the questions, sets expectations for completion time, provides a clear level anonymity, explains how the information will be used, and expresses appreciation for candid responses.
  • Be prepared to act upon information that indicates opportunity – This may range from completely changing the training plan, to a communication acknowledging why you won’t be addressing a common concern that the survey revealed.
  • Include a follow-up – After the window for participation closes, follow up with a thank you message, and provide any summarized results that support a positive message. For example: “The feedback consistently reflected a desire for more communication on when and how training will be provided, and this is being incorporated into the communication plan.”

What To Avoid

  • Unnecessarily long surveys – Determine the appropriate amount of detail that will provide useful information for planning purposes. Eliminate questions that don’t produce meaningful data.
  • Rating an individual or department team for a past project outcome – It is far more useful and less inflammatory to gage users’ levels of confidence in whether this particular project will be managed well.
  • The perception that the information gathered was not used – This happens when respondents are not given any follow up acknowledgement. Even if the feedback is predominantly negative, a communication expressing thanks and intent to evaluate results for future improvement should follow the survey as quickly as possible.

A carefully crafted survey with a quality delivery and follow up plan can yield excellent opportunities to improve your implementation, and promote a collaborative climate. The most difficult part may be convincing your organization to overcome the commonplace “survey-aversion” to tap into one of the best sources of project planning information, your employees.

Blog entry written by Lena Laakso, Manager of Organizational Change Management at Panorama Consulting Group.

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