FEATURE1 July 2006

Perseus Survey Solutions EFM 2.0 reviewed


Is a new enterprise feedback management tool a gimmick or a godsend? Tim Macer decides

Perseus SurveySolutions EFM 2.0 is styled as an enterprise feedback management tool, rather than a market research tool. With over 150 online survey tools out there, it begs the question is the EFM tag a marketing ploy? Or is an EFM software product noticeably different from an online survey tool?

Certainly the main components of this web-delivered suite would be familiar to anyone using any mainstream MR survey tool, and it sits in the middle-to-upper range in terms of functionality. There are two survey design modes: a ‘step-by-step’ mode, which is half wizard and half forms-based for beginners or occasional users, and a ‘free-form’ mode for experienced users which is virtually a Microsoft Word look-alike. There are integrated functions for drawing samples, creating invitations and deploying surveys on the live server, and a good range of tools for creating management reports on data; though the analysis functions are rather limited for the data literate researcher, which is not primarily the audience for this tool.

The software adeptly addresses the needs of the research manager by providing options to allow other users to design and set-up surveys and the analysis reports, but giving the research manager overall editorial control. This is essential in a large enterprise, to ensure that all survey initiatives are consistent and coherent, that different surveys from different teams do not overlap unduly, and particularly, to ensure that the questions that users not familiar with research techniques, are well thought out and unbiased. It also allows survey knowledge to be shared across the enterprise, both the results and the techniques or methods.

The word-like interface to the survey design tool is a very clever move. You can paste in sections already created in Microsoft Word, provided they are relatively simple and not over-worked into complicated Word tables, though the most convenient way to work is to write questions directly into the Free-form designer.

At their disposal is a very wide range of functionality: simple or complex routing, text piping and so-called ‘drill down’ questions where grids or questions are based on previous responses, such as for following up awareness questions. Multiple languages are supported, though the translation facility is only through the interface: the option to export and re-import would be nice.

The survey manager can also create libraries of questions and scales, so that these too are harmonised across the entire company. Different templates can also be created to provide either one entire corporate look or to offer different themes for departments or product lines. It also means any corporate re-branding exercise can ripple through all surveys in a matter of hours, not days.

Another ingenious feature is the ability to use enterprise databases as sampling sources. To the end user, the research manager creates a ‘Profile’ which is effectively a means to grab selected and controlled portions of records, including contact information and also key customer or demographic data. Different profiles can refer to different databases, and only be made available to specific users or groups of users. For example, product development and marketing may have access to the CRM or ERP systems like SAP, but only the human resources department would have access to any profiles feeding records from the personnel systems like PeopleSoft. Once interviews have taken place, the participation status can be stored in the profile and used when making future sample selections.

Realtime progress reports are very sophisticated, and the analysis tool shows a lot of promise. Though not as highly developed as the upstream tools, it could be all you need if you are using it to report findings to management through its dashboard and drill-down capabilities. However, for more conventional market research data analysis, especially for ad hoc surveys, could be long-winded to use and there is not much on offer on the statistical side beyond percentages and means. Clearly, with its focus on the corporate user, the EFM tag is more than a gimmick. Perseus was the slayer of Medusa, the gorgon with a habit of turning you to stone. If the gorgons that you are wrestling with are a proliferation of survey activities in-house, then this latter day Perseus should help.

Hughes Network Systems finds Perseus a hero
Anida Carpenter runs Business Intelligence and Consumer Market Research at Hughes Network Systems, and uses Perseus SurveySolutions to manage an extensive EFM programme. Hughes is a major global supplier of satellite broadband communications both to consumers and businesses, often on a massive scale.

It is a complex business and there can be many different touchpoints with the customer throughout the customer lifecycle which calls for consistent and timely monitoring through surveys.

“The biggest selling point for me is that I have been able to run this programme and manage the surveys and databases with no help required from IT,” Anida reports.

A series of profiles access records from the company’s central enterprise management databases and feed them automatically into the main continuous surveys to facilitate moment-of-truth research into customer experiences. This linkage without replication of data into separate sample databases has been fundamental to the speed and efficiency of the process.

Anida now supports nine corporate departments, each with a team of two or three people designing and administering customer surveys. “If you can use Windows, you can use this straight out of the box,” states Anida, adding that it takes “a couple of hours max” to train a new user. For her users, she has defined profiles and filters to allow them to select their own relevant samples, and both survey templates and question libraries simplify the design process.

The bottom line for her is that an annual spend of $218,000 on external custom research has been clipped back to just the cost of the Perseus software, while response rates on surveys have shot up from around 10% to 40%.

Perseus SurveySolution at a glance
Hosted service approx £5,600 annually for one full user and 5 reporting users including set-up consultancy and 2 days of training; extra users approx. £560 (full) and £100 (reporting).

• Word-like interface for designing surveys
• Centrally controlled ‘profiles’ can link to live enterprise databases, mailing lists or other data sources to provide end users with real-time and moment-of-truth sampling
• Simple results portal creation including dashboards and drilldown for managment

• No intelligent support for coding or consolidating open-ended data
• Limited range of statistics and no significance testing
• Laborious when handling open-ends
• No triple-s support

Further information

July | 2006