Survey Away | Information Technology | University of Pittsburgh
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Survey Away

Surveys are everywhere. From commercials (4 out of 5 dentists…), to politics (the Democratic primary debates require meeting a polling threshold). From the census and research studies, to meeting scheduling and customer feedback, nearly everyone wants to ask you something.

These days, free web-based services, like SurveyMonkey, abound. However, academic researchers need full-featured tools to create robust surveys, collect data, track and share responses, and collaborate with colleagues. The leading academic survey tool is Qualtrics—the platform that powers Pitt IT’s Online Survey System.

What’s more, Qualtrics can be incredibly useful, even if your job or major has nothing to do with research. Here are some of the neat ways you can use Qualtrics to meet a wide range of business needs. 

What Does Qualtrics Do?

On the most basic level, Qualtrics helps you collect information in an organized way. Any kind of data—from how often you experience pain to whether you prefer chicken or a burger for lunch. It collects that data in a way that makes it easy to tally, rank, report, and analyze the responses. It has a lot of advantages compared to the free products on the market.

  • Easy to use. Pitt IT offers training (see sidebar, right). But most people don’t need training to get started. It’s fairly simple and intuitive, so you can log in and go.
  • Secure: Qualtrics operates within the University’s secured environment, ensuring that data remains private and protected. It is approved by Pitt’s Information Security team and the IRB.
  • Versatile: Qualtrics is great for event registration, customer feedback, team brainstorming, file submission, and online forms, as well as research and clinical uses.
  • Pitt branding. Access Pitt themes and color palettes, so it looks like a professional page clearly associated with Pitt—as opposed to using bright green formatting.

Get Down to Business

So how can you use Qualtrics in day-to-day business life? I asked Jeff Rhoades, service owner, about some of the ways people are using the system. Here are a few real-world examples he provided, as well as my own experience.

  • What’s in a name? When I started, I had to launch a blog and several monthly newsletters. Each needed a name. I sent out a survey to solicit ideas. After I narrowed it down to the top 10 suggestions, I sent a follow-up, asking people to select their first and second choice for each communications vehicle. That’s why you’re reading a Panther Bytes blog at this very moment!
  • How we doin’? Ever submit a Facilities Management request? Whenever a work order is closed, a confirmation email with a link to a satisfaction survey is sent. The incorporated programming passes along information from the work order, so you don’t have to provide any of that! Avoiding unnecessary questions keeps the survey short and sweet—increasing the response rate.
  • So. Many. Options. When organizing a recent conference, another department offered three breakout sessions, with a choice of four workshops per session. The registration page used conditional logic, so that when a particular session was filled, the option stopped appearing. Plus, the survey automatically sent a confirmation email listing the chosen breakout sessions.
  • The kids are alright. For Bring Your Child to Work Day, Pitt IT created a sign-up page in Qualtrics. Participants listed how many kids they were bringing, and it automatically went through a loop of questions for each child as many times as needed. It also gave participants the option to upload a photo of each child to appear on their name badge.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Qualtrics is an easy way to create online forms, a virtual suggestion box, strategic planning feedback, a poll of what social activities the team would enjoy, or a potluck lunch signup. Qualtrics makes it easy. Really—I’ve found 4 out of 5 Qualtrics users agree.

- By Karen Beaudway, Pitt IT Blogger

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