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Data Collection in Project Management

Data Collection in Project Management

In project management, the foundation of sound decision-making is the ability to conduct effective research that has a significant contribution to the relevant department. Quantitative data collection tools offer a basis for the calculation of value and setting up project metrics to facilitate the measurement of success. Setting project metrics and calculating value also enables the project manager to understand the risks they are likely to encounter (Pasian, 2015). Project managers use numeric analysis (quantitative methods) to rationalize their decisions. Quantitative measures of market share, consumer satisfaction levels, supplier value, resource consumption, and consumer demand among others are influential ways of judging a project’s success. Quantitative data collection can be tailored to match the project aspects which managers intend to study to facilitate decision-making and ensure the realization of the project value.

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Quantitative Data Collection Techniques

Surveys

 The technique involves gathering data from many people for purposes of using it to do a comparative study. Project managers use surveys when standardization is necessary. Surveys take two forms; either open-ended where respondents are free to narrate responses, and close-ended where there is a predetermined range of answers from which to select. Open-ended questions are challenging to code and require more resources and time to handle. Surveys are done using questionnaires, structured interviews, observations, e-mail attachments, and web-based online surveys (Andler, 2012). Project managers use surveys because they are an effective way of obtaining information from many people and can be applied to a wide range of topics. Surveys are also useful when data is needed for summary and formative purposes. Project leaders can use surveys at intervals to measure behavioral change or project progress. 

Surveys are an effective way of collecting data in the field of project management for numerous reasons. First, a single survey can gather data on various aspects of the project. It is possible to structure survey questions to cover whatever areas of the project that needs to be studied. Second, they offer a good way of gathering descriptive data. Third, the data collected can be easily analyzed used statistical software. And lastly, surveys are relatively inexpensive. Apple Inc. is an example of a company that uses online surveys to conduct market research which has enabled the company to manufacture high-quality and high-demand products for years (Etherington, 2014). 

Tests

Tests offer project managers a way of assessing knowledge levels and the respondents’ capacity to apply the knowledge in different situations. Tests may take different forms depending on the researcher’s needs. Some tests require extensive responses while others require short answers. Project managers use tests because they offer information that can be measured against numerous standards. Popular types of tests that researchers use are norm-referenced, proficiency tests, and criterion-referenced assessments. Norm-referenced assessments offer information regarding the performance of the target person or group against a normative or reference group. Criterion-referenced tests offer data on whether or not the target has attained important skills (Andler, 2012). The tests do not reveal the target’s performance against peers. Proficiency tests on the other hand offer assessments on the level of skills attainment. There are four scales for assessing performance. Project managers use tests to study the organizations status of knowledge. They use the information to evaluate the effectiveness of knowledge transmission in various areas. For example, if a department undergoes training on the use of new software, tests are given to determine the effectiveness of the training. Project managers consider tests to be an effective data collection tool because they provide objectively valid and reliable data which is vital to ensure project success. Coca-Cola uses various tests to identify skills and competencies in the organization (“Organizational culture and people development, n.d.). The information has enabled the company to address gaps in knowledge hence remaining a top global company. 

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Experimental Approach

The experimental approach is a powerful tool to use when testing the hypothesis of underlying relationships between variables. When managers master the use of this technique, they can control the independent variable to study and observe its effect on the dependent variable. The experimental approach is divided into two groups; the control group and the experimental group. The technique attempts to decipher the cause-effect relationship (Creswell, 2014).  Experiments enable executives to get data under controlled conditions. Subjects are randomly selected to ensure the validity of the results. The researcher may assess the respondents using standardized scales and observation.  Project managers use experimental approaches because they span across all fields and therefore, they can be used to study many situations. Secondly, the high level of control facilitates prevents assumption based conclusions because they offer relevant information meaning, and the manager can tell whether the effects of the success or failure of the project are evident when analyzing data. Lastly, project leaders can tailor the experiment to their unique situations without affecting the validity of results. The Toyota Company uses experiments to test the effectiveness of processes and the quality of products (Stewart & Raman, 2007). 

The advances in technology mean that the future of quantitative research will not be limited to traditional data collection methods. Researchers will adopt the use of data collection software that supports mobile field technologies in data collection.  Additionally, advanced information technology infrastructure will facilitate tracking of everyday behavior to ensure real-time data collection and analytics. Real-time data is crucial in enabling businesses to make immediate responses to changes in the business environment (Pasian, 2015). 

In conclusion, the realization of a project’s value and effective decision-making depend on the ability of the project manager to conduct valid and reliable research. Surveys, tests, and experimental approaches are examples of quantitative data gathering techniques that project managers can use to get vital information about projects. Technology presents an opportunity for researchers to adopt improved and efficient ways of carrying out research.

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