Surveys are a brilliant tool for project managers. There are so many potential uses during the your project lifecycle. For example, customer service surveys, canvasing opinions, employee engagement, satisfaction surveys, training or event feedback, market research. In fact, the only real limitation is your own imagination. So, next you need to choose a suitable survey tool. But which online survey tool is the best option for getting these valuable opinions? In this article, find out some of the most popular options and take part in a little test that I’m running – more on that later.

What sort of survey do you want to run?

This is the first and most important question that you need to answer as the project manager. In fact, it’s actually a number of questions all rolled into one. However, defining the parameters of your survey will help clarify what option would be best for you. Consider some of these points:

  • Why are you doing this survey?
  • What do you want to know or find out?
  • Who has a relevant say?
  • How would you find those people?
  • How many replies would you want?
  • What will you do with the data once the survey is finished?

You’ll be in a better place to make a decision on the best tool once you understand more about your survey.

1. SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey is probably the most well known online survey tool known. You can pick up a free account or opt for a paid for account. Essentially, the free account includes their branding, limits the size of your survey and only allows you limited question types and a linear flow (i.e. no logic). The paid options start adding more professional survey tools and features that can turn this tool into a research powerhouse.

The best bits of using SurveyMonkey:

  • Simple to get started
  • Widely used
  • Free account lets you do unlimited surveys

However, if you opt for SurveyMonkey as your preferred survey tool then you should also know this:

  • Free account limits the number of responses to 100 per survey.
  • Limited analysis and charting in the free account.
  • No exporting of the data

I think SurveyMonkey is a great bet if you have a need for lots of short, quick surveys with only a few questions.

2. SurveyGizmo

SurveyGizmo is a relatively unknown survey tool (relative to SurveyMonkey I mean). The proposition is very similar to Survey Monkey. Again, there is a free account which limits the use in a similar way to SurveyMonkey. Also like SurveyMonkey, the paid options turn this online survey tool into mean data collection machine!

The best bits of SurveyGizmo:

  • Simple to get started
  • Free account lets you do long surveys with unlimited questions
  • Free account lets you export the raw data for further or more complex analysis

However, the downsides of using this survey tool are:

  • Free account limits you to only doing 3 surveys
  • Limited number of surveys that you can run at one moment in time

SurveyGizmo is a great tool if you want to do a single one-off survey or very infrequent surveys. Plus, it’s a great place to show ask more in depth questions without trying to squeeze it into 10 questions. For example, if you were looking for feedback on brand new product idea, or perhaps running an employee survey where you want to ask many more questions.

3. Social media

Social media surveys are relatively new and of course have come with the explosion of social media. There are several different ways of doing this. Twitter and Facebook can do polls. You can do a simple choice with LinkedIn (e.g. A is option 1, B is option 2). Actually, I’m slightly surprised that LinkedIn haven’t done anything with this, especially given the business users on the platform.

The best bits of using social media as your survey tool:

  • Fast to get a response
  • Could get a very large number of replies if it gets viral attention

However, there are some elements to watch out for too:

  • No choice, control or monitoring of demographics
  • Results are visible to the whole world
  • Only asking 1 question at a time

Social media is brilliant for getting a very quick temperature check on a question. Of course, you can only use one question at a time and you must semi-ignore the unknown demographic element. Also, use social media if you want the mentality of “fast” is better than “perfect” when it comes to your project surveys.

4. Other options

There are many other survey tools to use so I’m not going to give you a long list. Google can do that for you! Some of the more popular alternatives include tools like:

  • Google Forms
  • Website contact forms

Oh yes, and the “old fashioned” option of pen and paper which can be done over the phone or even face to face! Now, there’s an idea 😉

I’m running a little online survey tool test

I was interested in seeing how social media surveying works. So, I’m asking which survey tool option you prefer , using social media. Will this skew the results? Maybe. I think no but I just don’t know.

So, I’ve put the question out to the 2 social networks that I hang around in. Twitter and LinkedIn. Take a look and don’t forget to vote…

I plan on revisiting this topic next week to review the results and let me know my thoughts on using social media as a simple and quick survey tool. Let’s wait and see what happens…

In the meantime, find out more about SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo.

project management expert Oliver BanksAbout the Author

Oliver Banks is an expert at delivering retail change projects and programmes. He’s consulted and advised on the integration of retail operations before and knows the type of challenges they present. When taking these on, he blends classic project management techniques from PRINCE2, PMBOK and Lean Six Sigma with a dose of pragmatism and business reality to ensure these important retail projects are led, managed and delivered successfully.

project management expert Oliver Banks

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