Posted by: rayseghers | November 16, 2009

Off-the-Shelf or Custom-Tailored?

There is no simple right answer. Both off-the-shelf employee surveys and custom-tailored employee surveys offer advantages and, of course, both have limitations.

Off-the-shelf (OTS) employee surveys tend to be less expensive and faster to implement both in terms of data collection as well as data analysis. However, a well-done custom-tailored (CT) questionnaire can fit your organization “like a glove.”

But the difference between OTS and CT is not quite this simple. Some OTS offerings allow the user to add custom-tailored supplemental questions to the standard set. As long as the questionnaire doesn’t get too long this can be a very good alternative. Some custom-tailored questionnaires don’t start from scratch but allow clients to choose questions from a library. Again, this hybrid approach can also be a very good alternative.

So, in order from fixed to flexible, we have:

A. Off-the-shelf

B. Off-the-shelf with custom-tailored supplemental questions

C. Custom-tailored – choosing from a question library

D. Custom-tailored – built from scratch

As a general rule, Options B & C are probably the best choices for most organizations since they provide a blend of flexibility with “tried and true” at a reasonable cost.

When you are considering what is best for your organization, take into consideration the internal costs (time and money) as well as the external costs.


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