Naureen Aqueel

SAAS for surveys: You can take it with you!

Posted on: July 7, 2009

An edited version of this article was published in CIO Pakistan magazine, July 2009.

Companies in our country face a dearth of information resources to form the base for effective decision-making concerning business issues. Few, if any, companies exist that provide such services to businesses. Those that do, however, either charge exorbitant fees for such services or conduct them on such large scales that do not apply to small businesses.

Instead of getting this done by other companies, it is much more cost-effective and efficient if companies conduct such surveys themselves. With the advent of web 2.0 technologies and the introduction of SAAS (Software as a Service) and other online survey services, surveys are no longer as difficult as they used to be.

Before these services were made available, surveys had to be typed, printed, dispatched and the results manually fed into the computer for it to be tabulated on Excel or other softwares. However, with the advent of services like Google docs forms and websites offering online survey facilities, research has become very easy. These websites enable anyone to create professsional surveys quickly and easily.

Gone are the days when questions had to be typed and printed with hundreds of questionnaires being manually administered to respondents across the population, now all you need to do is create a survey on google docs or an online survey website, submit the link to a website, social network etc or mail it to your respondents and have the responses coming in to you with basic compilation and tabulations done for you by the softwares. Online survey websites similarly compile the results for you and show you the percentage of responses against each item in the questionnaire.

Most websites also give you the option of selecting from a number of different types of questions.  You can select from multiple choice questions, ranking scales etc. This gives respondents the ease of answering questions quickly and conveniently and increases the response rate.

Many websites allow users to avail online survey facilities for free, the need being only to create an account on the website Once registered on the website, you can then go on to design your survey. Some websites also offer the option of customizing the creative style element of your survey by uploading your logo, using themes etc. You can then send your survey via e-mail or post it on your blog or any social networking websites. Analysis tools including graphs, charts, spreadsheets etc can then be used to analyze the results of the survey.

Small businesses, including for example eateries and restaurants across the city can benefit from such services by providing their customers with the link to their online surveys in the receipts instead of having them fill feedback forms. This can provide a steady flow of feedback allowing companies to align their services in accordance with customer demand.

However, these services do not come without their limitations. In online surveys, the respondents are limited to those customers who use the internet and actually go through the trouble of responding to such surveys online. Thus, these services are more useful to companies whose customers are regular netizens and therefore would be able to respond to such surveys.

Nonetheless, with the internet population growing day by day, online surveys have become effective medium of companies obtaining the much needed feedback from customers to form the basis of corporate plans and decision-making. They are not only cheap; but quick as well and provide the user with data in its complete form, compiled and tabulated, saving users the hassle of having to compile and tabulate information from hundreds of printed forms.

Some websites that offer free online surveys include:

  1. http://surveymonkey.com
  2. http://freeonlinesurveys.com/
  3. http://www.polldaddy.com/
  4. http://www.surveypopups.com/
  5. http://www.esurveyspro.com/
  6. http://www.freesurveysonline.com/

Other websites that offer these services for a fee include:

  1. http://www.questionpro.com/
  2. http://www.zoomerang.com/
  3. http://www.createsurvey.com/
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