The JHU Capstone Team began addressing this business problem by evaluating internal processes, collecting and analyzing specific functional requirements, and completing external market research and industry analysis. The internal assessment allowed the team to truly understand Goodwill’s needs, while the external assessment allowed the team to understand the various technological solutions available on the market. Although numerous requirements were identified, there were three that were of significant importance to Goodwill.
These requirements included the fact that the solution needed to: be compliant with 508 and the rehabilitation act; have minimal resource impacts on their IT department; and be low cost. It was these three requirements that helped the team assess and evaluate all three architectures. During analysis, it was quickly determined that Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions had multiple advantages over Commercial-of-the-Shelf (COTS) and Open Source Solutions (OSS) solutions. First, COTS products were either too expensive or required too many technical resources to implement.
Additionally, while OSS products provided best cost effectiveness, they normally required even more technical configuration than the commercial products. Finally, both COTS and OSS solutions may have required the purchase of hardware on which to install i Graduate Applied Project in Technology the software, therefore adding to the overall cost of these solutions. Although COTS and OSS solutions had been eliminated due to high costs and IT impacts, there were still a number of SaaS solutions that had the potential of fulfilling Goodwill’s requirements.
Each potential SaaS candidate was further evaluated against Goodwill’s top requirements. The JHU Capstone Team then narrowed the possible solutions to SurveyMonkey, SurveyGizmo, and Survey Methods. Each of these finalists was then further evaluated in terms of ease of use, professional presentation, and special features. The team selected SurveyGizmo due to its special features that would allow Goodwill to streamline their ‘thank you’ letter process. SurveyGizmo provided the capability to generate hidden questions that would tag responses based on speakers and sessions.
This hidden information would allow Goodwill to sort and quantify the ratings by speaker and/or session, thereby assisting with the generation of ‘thank you’ letters. In summary, the JHU Capstone team recommended that the MSC consider SurveyGizmo as the service provider for their survey evaluation process. Although Goodwill had in-house knowledge of SurveyMonkey, the JHU Capstone Team believed that the special features offered by SurveyGizmo would make a positive impact on the analysis and creation of ‘thank you’ letters.
Goodwill Industries International, Inc. (Goodwill) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education and training services to people who may be disadvantaged by a financial situation, lack of work experience, or a disability. The non-profit organization offers a chance for individuals to enhance their lives through work opportunities. Goodwill’s mission is to “enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals, families, and communities by eliminating barriers to opportunity and helping people in need reach their fullest potential through the power of work. (Goodwill, 2009) In this endeavor, Goodwill constantly strives to keep people relevant to the job market by offering a multitude of yearly training sessions. As part of its strategic initiative, Goodwill has also become a proponent of ‘Going Green’ – which initiative involves becoming more environmentally-conscious and ties nicely into the non-profit’s set of values, including: respect; stewardship; ethics; learning; and innovation. (Goodwill, 2009) 1. 1 Background Information Goodwill was founded in 1902 under the name of Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries in Boston by Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister and early social innovator.
Helms collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired those who were poor to mend and repair the used goods. After these goods were repaired, he then resold them or gave them to the people who repaired them. Goodwill operates as a network of 184 independent organizations in the U. S. , Canada and 14 other countries. In 2007, Goodwill organizations collectively earned more than $3. 16 billion, 1 Graduate Applied Project in Technology and used 84 percent of that revenue to provide employment and training services to more than 1,113,000 individuals.
Today, Goodwill has placed 140,287 people in competitive employment jobs earning about $2. 3 billion dollars. It operates 2,246 retail stores, has 65. 4 million donors, has generated $3. 2 billion dollars in revenue and serves 1. 1 million individuals through employment and training programs. One of the many departments in the Goodwill organization is the Member Services Center (MSC). The MSC is responsible for organizing and administering employee learning events and sessions across the non-profit organization.
They host approximately five large events and many small events each year. These events can have anywhere from 100 to 500 attendees. Most, if not all events occur at hotels. On average, a small event consists of 10-15 sessions while a large event consists of 60-80 sessions with approximately 50-60 speakers over a 4-day time period. There are approximately four timeslots per day with seven available sessions per timeslot. 2. 0 Business Problem In order to ensure continued improvement and success, the MSC conducts evaluations ollowing the completion of each session and event. Although the goal of these evaluations is to collect feedback on a number of items, the main focus is to analyze the performance of the speakers and the conditions of the event facilities. The resulting analysis provides the MSC with the ability to determine which speakers and facilities they should consider utilizing for future events. The business problem investigated focuses on the process for the event surveys. Until very recently, each event evaluation was prepared, completed, and analyzed using a manual and Graduate Applied Project in Technology paper-based approach. The lack of automation, coupled with the significant dependence on paper, results in a process that is costly, time-consuming, and inefficient.
In order to increase efficiencies and support Goodwill’s current ‘Going Green’ initiative, the MSC has engaged The Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School Graduate Capstone Project Team (JHU Capstone Team) to explore automated, paperless, and cost effective methods for collecting, reporting on, and analyzing event evaluation data.
The following project objectives have been identified: Analysis of current manual and paper-based process of distributing, collecting, and analyzing event evaluation and survey forms; Identification of ways to improve the current process such that it is more efficient and streamlined (this includes the evaluation of survey content); Identification and evaluation of electronic and web-based solutions that provide for an improved and more environmentally-friendly process; Identification of a streamlined solution for distributing ‘thank you’ letters; and Development of documentation to describe the new process.
Note: The implementation and installation of a solution is considered out of scope for the purpose of this project. Two significant constraints have been identified for this project. The first constraint pertains to the cost of the recommended solution. Because no actual budget has been identified for this project, the Goodwill MSC has indicated that the solution must be low-cost. This places a 3 Graduate Applied Project in Technology limitation on the number of products that can be evaluated by the JHU Capstone Team.
Furthermore, it should be noted that a low-cost solution may not be able to fulfill all of Goodwill’s needs and requirements. The second constraint pertains to the lack of available resources from the Information Technologies (IT) Department for installation and maintenance support for the recommended solution. This constraint not only reduces the list of possible products for evaluation, but it could also mean that the final solution may not fulfill all of Goodwill’s needs and requirements. The JHU Capstone Team was broken into several sub-teams for the purposes of focusing n different aspects of the project. Figure 1 provides an overview of the overall methodology. Following the establishment of the project’s objectives and goals, the Internal Assessment Team completed further analysis of Goodwill’s business problem through the use of interviews and questionnaires. An additional meeting with Goodwill was used for information gathering purposes related to clarifying project requirements, expectations, and objectives.
More specifically, the following items were completed: The Internal Assessment Team completed interviews and surveys with Goodwill to determine the functional and non-functional requirements for the project. The Internal Assessment Team confirmed the project objectives, assumptions, risks, and scope with the client. The Internal Assessment Team evaluated the current questionnaire content, ‘thank you’ letters, historical data retention process, and current analysis reports in order to assess Goodwill’s internal processes (i. e. distribution, collection and analysis of surveys).
The Internal Assessment Team conducted hands-on testing of the current survey tool (SurveyMonkey) to better understand the process currently being performed. This testing also gave the team a better understanding of the evaluation form content. The Internal Assessment Team attempted to gather non-functional requirements from Goodwill’s IT Department. Unfortunately, due to resource constraints at Goodwill, the team was unable to gather this information. The Internal Assessment Team researched and evaluated the Goodwill environment in order to determine its current strengths and weaknesses.
The External team was tasked with exploring the options that other companies and organizations have chosen for their survey needs by conducting extensive market research and industry analysis. This research pned both similar and non-similar companies to get an overall feel of what industries were using and what product would be the best fit for Goodwill. The External Assessment Team broke into three groups to further refine research.
The first group was tasked with collecting data on industry standards and practices as well as developing a market snapshot of what companies should look for when choosing a survey product. The second group contacted a number of companies to find out how they are handling the task of survey distribution and analysis. These company included in-industry and out, so that a clear picture and possible trends could be identified. The third group focused on specific product research. An exhaustive product matrix was developed to document investigated products and services.
This was used to analyze compatibility with Goodwill’s requirements. Many of these companies were engaged to explore financing and compliance requirements. The major deliverables met by the External Assessment Team can be found below: Conducted industry and market research to gain knowledge and understanding of available industry solutions and study corporate direction, market space, consumer benchmarking, and competitive analysis. Created an opportunity and threat matrix for Goodwill from the aspect of having a survey system as requested by the sponsor.
Data collected during market research and industry analysis was used to identify opportunities and threats affecting the Goodwill event team. Identified, evaluated, and contacted many survey vendors to find an acceptable fit 6 Graduate Applied Project in Technology with the requirements. A detailed matrix has been developed showing all vendors and products contacted and how their solution meets or does not meet the defined requirements. Developed a report based on the analysis of research conducted on similar organizations and the market.
The JHU project team provided a written recommendation for changes, modifications, additions, and/or replacement of current evaluation process. This section provides an overview of the manner in which event evaluations are currently being conducted at Goodwill. For instance, event evaluations are currently sent out daily to all event participants. Furthermore, a final survey is distributed at the end of the event to collect generalized information about the event itself. Although these evaluations are currently sent out via an online application, SurveyMonkey, this was not always the case.
Previously, all surveys were paper-based which required event attendees to complete these surveys before departing for the day and Goodwill would manually tabulate the results and enter them into a spreadsheet for calculations. Process is broken down into nineteen steps, as seen in Figure 2. Goodwill has expressed dissatisfaction with the overall time it takes them to complete this process, in addition to the amount of printed material it generates.
They understand that manual data entry is not only very time-consuming and prone to errors, but that it is also very costly and inefficient. Additionally the current evaluation process can take upwards 7 Graduate Applied Project in Technology of 3 months to complete. Goodwill would ultimately prefer that the evaluation process, including ‘thank you’ letter generation, be completed within one to two weeks of the event. Figure 2 depicts a very high-level overview of the paper-based Learning Event Quality Improvement Process. The process consists of evaluating events to obtain ratings on sessions, speakers and the overall event.
The evaluations are used to determine the type of ‘thank you’ letter that should be sent out to event speakers. Furthermore, the following bullet points summarize the steps of the paper-based process, which is depicted in Figure 2. Goodwill staff members plan a conference featuring individual sessions; session times and titles are finalized 2 – 3 weeks prior to the event. Goodwill staff members create surveys using a template document and then send them to OfficeMax for copying; labels are made for session survey envelopes. Goodwill staff members sort evaluations by session and distribute them to session monitors. Conference attendees complete evaluation form and return them to the Goodwill registration desk. Goodwill staff members tabulate the results of the evaluations; copies are archived. Goodwill staff members send ‘thank you’ notes to the conference speakers, along with evaluation results. Goodwill staff members discuss the survey results and contact approximately 20% of the conference attendees for additional feedback.
Electronic-Based Process Recently, Goodwill subscribed to SurveyMonkey as an interim solution to the problem. These actions were taken after contracting with JHU for the Capstone project, but prior to the first team meeting. SurveyMonkey is an online, web-based survey tool that can be subscribed to for as little as $20 per month. This tool allows Goodwill to distribute surveys to employees electronically via e-mail, allowing the participants to either complete the surveys at the event’s computer kiosks or at a later date when it is more convenient to them.
Furthermore, SurveyMonkey assists the MSC by removing the need for them to manually convert paper-based results to an electronic format. Figure 3 displays Goodwill’s Learning Event Quality Improvement Process, which has been updated for the inclusion of SurveyMonkey. The following bullet points summarize the steps of Goodwill’s SurveyMonkey process, which is further depicted in Figure 3. Goodwill staff members plan a conference which will feature individual sessions; session times and titles are finalized 2 – 3 weeks prior to the event. Goodwill Staff create a daily and overall survey form in SurveyMonkey. Goodwill staff members send evaluations at the end of each day and then again at the conclusion of the event. Goodwill staff members download reports and meet to discuss results. Goodwill staff members contact approximately 20% of conference attendees for further feedback. Goodwill staff members print and archive reports and analysis. Goodwill staff members send results and ‘thank you’ notes to session speakers.
‘Thank You’ Letter Process As described in the previous processes, Goodwill sends out a ‘thank you’ letter from the CEO to all the speakers of the event. Goodwill is currently frustrated by the length of time that this process takes to complete. Currently it takes Goodwill 5-8 weeks from the time the event is complete to the time the first ‘thank you’ letter is sent out. Goodwill expressed that these letters are very important.
Therefore, a streamlined and efficient process is needed. Figure 4 shows the process Goodwill takes to create and send out ‘thank you’ letters. After all the results from the evaluations are tabulated, Goodwill determines which version of letter should be used. Ideally Goodwill uses two types of ‘thank you’ letter templates. One template is used for speakers that have mostly all positive evaluations, and another template is used for the remaining speakers. The below bullet points summarize the steps of the ‘thank you’ letter process, which is further depicted in Figure 4. Goodwill staff members review and edit comments from each session and produce one to two sentences to use as feedback in the ‘thank you’ letter. Goodwill staff members find Session Speaker names and contact information. Goodwill staff members edit, print, and mail ‘thank you’ notes. 12 Graduate Applied Project in Technology Figure 4 - ‘Thank You’ Letter Process (Goodwill Industries, 2009) 13 Graduate Applied Project in Technology 6. 0 Project Requirements & Success Criteria In order to properly identify an appropriate solution, a list of requirements was necessary.
Goodwill provided the JHU Capstone Team with an extensive list of requirements. The full list of requirements and rankings can be found in Appendix B. This list of requirements was used to measure the qualifications of any specific tool that can potentially meet the needs of the MSC. Given the extensive number of requirements gathered for this project, the JHU Capstone Team asked Goodwill to provide them with priority requirements so that an appropriate solution could be found. Goodwill provided the following 6 requirements that they consider to be the most important.
It is therefore vital that the recommended solution fulfill, at a minimum, the following prioritized requirements: Comply with 508 and rehabilitation act; Require minimal resources from the Information Technology Department; Be low cost; Be able to complete automated analysis of the survey results; Allow for the creation, collection and analysis of multiple styles of questions; and Provide export formats compatible for Microsoft Office. In addition to these priority requirements, the JHU Capstone Team selected another six from the master list to create additional differentiation in the evaluation matrix.
Provide speaker ‘thank you’ letters as an output; Allow the sharing of results with others via a webpage; Allow users to create, review, update, and delete an unlimited number of surveys and survey questions; 14 Graduate Applied Project in Technology, Maximum number of responses allowed per month meets maximum number of responses possible from largest conference; • Allow users to create graphical representations of analytical results within the application; and Convenient product support and hours of operation.
Perceived Benefits and Improvements
Some of the perceived benefits and improvements of an electronic-based survey tool include: Increased efficiency – The new electronic-based solution will automate the distribution, collection, and analysis of surveys and results. It will reduce the amount of manual work required by the MSC. It will also make surveys easier to complete for employees by providing them the option to complete the survey when it is more convenient for them. Additionally, it provides the opportunity to automate the ‘thank you’ letter process. Cost reduction – The new electronic-based solution will reduce the cost of required man-hours associated with the organization and administration of the surveys. This solution will also reduce the costs for paper by eliminating the current paper-based solution. ‘Going Green’ – The new electronic-based solution eliminates the need for paper copies. Given that over 5000 copies are made for the largest conference, this will make a significant impact on Goodwill’s green initiative. This solution also provides better security for the collected information than the paper version.
Better analytical results – The new electronic-based solution will provide a mechanism to provide instant access to results or store historical data. It will also have the ability to quickly tabulate results as needed for reports. 8. 0 Industry Analysis To properly evaluate the possible alternatives, the JHU Capstone Team determined it was necessary to understand how surveys were addressed in other sectors of industry. The team began by investigating general trends on the application of surveys and current technology developments. In recent years, the use of survey applications has gained interest within industry. This is partially due to the fact that employee and customer satisfaction have become paramount for success in today’s highly-competitive market. To satisfy this growing desire to collect survey data, the technology used for analyzing collected data has had to expand and mature. Enterprise Feedback Management is a catch phrase that many technology circles are using to describe the latest evolution of surveys.
High-end solutions can provide such options as: permission levels to data access; expansive reporting capabilities; and historic data collection and analysis, etc. As can be seen, today’s survey applications come in varying shapes and forms – from the simplistic “bare-bones” versions to the ultra sophisticated enterprise model. In order to effectively and efficiently implement a survey solution, there are specific considerations that must be addressed. Engagement To begin, the scope of survey-specific requirements must be gathered and examined.
Project in Technology noted in a 2007 Gartner report, organizations must identify four main categories before being capable of implementing a successful survey (Kolsky, 2007). The first category consists of having the organization identify their target survey participants. By identifying target groups and / or individuals to take the survey, it becomes possible for the organization to create relevant questions. The second category requires that the organization define the purpose of their survey. This step is often overlooked even though it is considered extremely valuable in the survey creation process.
By exploring the purpose of a survey, organizations can better focus their efforts on improving their reputation and maintaining and /or improving customer satisfaction. The third category consists of determining the type of data and information the organization wishes to gather. It is not enough to simply find out if the survey participants are satisfied or not. There should be more thought put into the survey. For instance, organizations may wish to obtain data to backup and / or confirm known issues or problems that need to be investigated. The final category relates to timing.
Surveys should not be sent out weeks after an event because the information being requested will no longer be fresh in the recipients mind. Depending on the experience, this could considerably skew the data collected. Analysis Although most surveys appear to be similar, this is not necessarily the case. The way to distinguish a good survey from a bad one is based on the level with which analysis can provide useful data. A major pitfall in the implementation of surveys surrounds the fact that organizations do not have a clearly defined goal and objective in mind for their survey.
It is absolutely vital that survey goals and objectives be defined prior to implementation. Note that 17 Graduate Applied Project in Technology goals can be defined relative to how the information collected will be utilized, whereas objectives can be defined relative to how the information that must be collected from the survey in order to meet the goal. It is important to understand that analyzing customer feedback is not an objective skill. According to Gartner, 75% of people polled in surveys provide high scores to an organization even if the organization did a poor job.
This can be attributed to many reasons including: people being afraid of letting the organization down; people simply not caring; or people simply seeing no real benefit in providing ‘true’ feedback. These issues make it even more important to identify the organization’s objectives and goals in order to match them to specific feedback. This will ensure that the collected data will be beneficial to the organization and will provide them with a better understanding of topics and issues directly affecting them (Kolsky, 2007).
Know What You Need, Ask What You Want Another major issue surrounds surveys that do not have questions tailored to collecting the data necessary to fulfill the survey’s goals and objectives. To avoid this pitfall, organizations need to ensure that they create questions that have very specific purposes and / or actions. This can be done by identifying expectations prior to creating questions, thereby ensuring that the questions are directed towards collecting the desired data. This methodology helps to confirm or quantify the data and information being pursued and collected.
Finally, by using this approach, organizations will reduce the amount of time analyzing data and therefore increase the amount of time they have available to take actions on the results. Simplicity is the Key Many times, surveys are created with rating scales of 1-x, with the inclusion of comment boxes at the end to allow for respondents to leave more personalized remarks. According to 18 Graduate Applied Project in Technology Gartner, these types of surveys tend to return lower than adequate response rates. Additionally, they can take longer to analyze and review because of the personalized comments that are obtained.
This may result in information that can no longer be used for the intended goal of the survey. On average, surveys that ask directed questions and avoid open-ended feedback questions tend to get much better response rates. Furthermore, these types of surveys can be more easily analyzed. Again, with the reduction of the amount of time spent doing analysis, more time is freed up to take action on the results of the survey. A best practice approach to creating effective surveys is to follow a three-phase model.
These questions would be used to confirm the organization’s interpretation of the initial smaller surveys. The top level of this model, the Planning tier, would consist of surveyors asking detailed questions on what specific action the organization can take to improve within the next year or two. This tier allows the collection and analysis of specific data, thereby allowing organizations to act in an educated and expedited manner. This three-phase model has the potential to be highly beneficial to Goodwill. Specifically, the MFC can use these methodologies to help plan future training events.
Using data collected from past surveys, Goodwill can then select specific individuals to interview with a more specific and in-depth questions. Feedback After the survey has been completed, the final step involves informing the survey participants of what was done with their feedback. As a best practice, it is very helpful when organizations inform survey participants with the actions taken based on the results of the survey feedback. This step helps solidify the fact that the organization cares about the survey participant’s opinion and may have an added benefit of increasing future response rates. Graduate Applied Project in Technology As seen in Figure 6 below, it is clear that the surveyed participants were more receptive to working on the surveys if they were made aware of how their opinion was being used and that appropriate actions were being taken. As can be seen in the diagram, both Business-to-Customer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) were greatly boosted by this feedback.
Now that the basis for a strong survey implementation has been defined, it is necessary to iscuss the method that will be used to introduce the survey environment into the organization. As previously discussed, it is important to accurately align the goals and objectives of the organization into the survey questions. By taking these steps, the organization can create a clear path of expected benefits. In turn, this can be quantified by real dollar savings or by process improvements through the implementation of actions based on the survey’s results. The best approach to successfully implement survey results into the organization is to disseminate the results to all stakeholders.
By integrating the data into all affected business areas, the organization entrenches the usefulness of the information directly into its core business 21 Graduate Applied Project in Technology processes. It is important to remember that a survey is not a solution but rather a measurement device that indicates whether the solution is working. (Kolsky, 2007) As discussed previously, Goodwill has identified a need for collecting and analyzing valuable associate feedback pertaining to the organization’s hosted events.
By implementing a solid survey system, and identifying the appropriate goals and objectives, the MSC will be able to better understand the needs of its associates pertaining to these events. This will allow them to focus on developing and organizing the events, instead of evaluating survey results. Additionally, the ability to share the results with participants, subject matter experts (SME), and management will result in greater participation with future surveys. After a solid survey business case has been identified and approved, the next step involves the selection of an appropriate application and vendor. To successfully choose a solution that will work best in a particular environment, it is recommended that a few simple steps are followed: All surveys tools and evaluation applications currently in use within the organization should be listed and catalogues for evaluation purposes. A long-term plan should be identified to determine the immediate and future survey needs in order to align the solution with the business case. All survey-specific requirements should be gathered, documented, and analyzed.
It will also be necessary to clearly determine a list of what is absolutely necessary, as opposed to what items would be nice to have in the solution. The survey application industry has grown significantly in the past 15 years: It has grown from a few million dollars to approximately $7 billion dollars a year. Many companies around the world have begun exploring this untapped market to better serve the needs of those desiring survey applications. Currently, there are more than 300 vendors in the survey marketplace.