Polls, surveys, questionnaires are synonymous terms for the same thing – asking people for their opinion on a topic.  Chapter Nine of the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®), Second Edition includes Surveys and Questionnaires as the 31st technique.

Surveys help teams understand what customers want. They will differ depending on whether they will be administered through telephone, mail, or electronic means. A good survey may be  time-consuming to construct, but a bad survey will only provide misleading data. Points to remember when creating a survey:

  • Write questions that are short, simple and clear
  • If it’s possible to misunderstand, it will be!
  • Avoid leading questions
  • Phrase sensitive questions carefully
  • Use close-ended rather than open-ended
  • Keep alternatives short
  • Options should be mutually exclusive and exhaustive
  • Have  a cover letter or introduction email or script
  • Keep the survey short
  • Start with interesting questions
  • Sensitive questions should be later in survey (such as age or income range)
  • Order questions carefully

Tools such as Survey Monkey allow for a creating  a survey quickly and for reporting real-time results.  Those tools can not overcome bad survey design.  So keep those principles in mind and happy surveying and requirements elicitation!