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Good question. We asked 6 questions, but you may want to ask more.
These are the questions:
1--How often do you use the documentation? We divided it by type (5
types) and then put in ranges of time over a 6 month period.
2--How accurate is the documentation?
3--How helpful is the documentation?
4--Rank the 5 types of documentation by importance.
5--We asked about pricing, but that probably doesn't really matter to you.
6--What can we do better.
In your case, I would suggest adding more specific questions on how
they used the documents (training, research, guidelines, QA, etc.) and
what results they got. Since you are mostly internal, I'd imagine that
that is something that is more quantitative for determining value. For
example, if 76% of your readers all say that your documentation helped
them do their jobs, I doubt if any capable manager would question the
value of documentation. Oh, and asking an open-ended question right
after is also a good idea, but maybe that's too long of a survey for
you. We tried for under 5 minutes max.
The first 5 questions were all range answers. The last one was an open
field. We knew the answer to many questions and had our own thoughts,
but we were careful to ask questions that would help the taker feel at
ease and really focus in on what we wanted. For example, I knew that
no one really read the documentation, but by asking the question, you
show that you want to know what they really think. It also lets them
know that you are taking readership into consideration.
In your case, I would honestly focus very heavily on how much the
documents are used and how happy they are. I think that the first four
questions in particular would be helpful to you.
If I can offer these classic "this is what I learned" type of comments:
1--The answer you are looking for is sometimes better reached by
asking a different question. For example, we wanted to know interest
in an after-market manual, so we couched that question in the rank in
order of importance question. We found out that after-market material
wasn't necessarily what people wanted. At the same time, we found out
what they really did want.
2--You will get better responses by asking direct questions that shows
the taker that you are honest. We tried and tried to hide the pricing
question because no one likes to talk money. Finally, we put it in
with no cover or distraction and got wonderful results. Yes, some
people were frustrated, but isn't that an honest response? If you are
honest with them, they will be honest with you. Plus, no one can ever
accuse you of "stacking" the questions in your favor if you are
3--Specific questions get specific feedback. If you want to know if
they like your design, ask. Yeah, I know, that contradicts with tip 1.
4--Pass around a couple test runs with people and make sure that they
questions are very easily understood, direct, and unambigious. We had
one question (the rating question) that probably could have been
worded better. We ended up throwing out more than half of the
responses for that one question. Fortunately, we had enough responses
that we felt the question was still pretty reliable.
All in all, I really enjoyed the experience, and I feel better
prepared to write future documentation. The "what can I do better"
question was especially useful. Be honest and just ask for their help.
They'll feel ownership, they'll feel your interest in helping them,
they'll give you honest feedback. Oh, and I would make absolutely no
mention that this survey is a rating tool for your department.
Mentioning that could skew people into thinking that you need their
help in justifying your work.
And once again, I strongly recommend Zoomerang. They have several
tools that let you easily set up the survey and draw results. I was
kind of disappointed in their download results feature since it just
exports the data to a spreadsheet. I had hoped that they would build
and download charts and graphs. Oh well. I guess I do have to some
work. Excel was great at making the charts and graphs.
Oh, and the iPod ran $99. It was a nice, cheap gesture that got
responses. But I really liked the idea of doing a nice dinner for two.
Good luck. And remember to have fun.
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