Data Gathering Techniques
There are nine different data gathering techniques explained below that are usually used to collect data and information from varied sources and further use them for decision making or analysis These techniques are applied while performing various processes as part of effective project management during project life cycle.
1.Benchmarking : This is the practice of comparing actual or planned project practices or the project’s quality standards to those of comparable projects to identify best practices, generate ideas for improvement, and provide a basis for measuring performance. Benchmarked projects may be internal – exist within the performing organization or external – outside of it or can be within the same application area or other application area. Benchmarking allows for analogies from projects in a different application area or different industries to be made.
2.Brainstorming : This technique is used to generate or identify a list of ideas within a short period of time. This best suited in a group setting environment and is normally led by a trained facilitator.
Brainstorming contains two parts: Idea generation and Analysis
- Idea generation : A topic or issue can be presented in the group and participants are asked to generate as many ideas as possible during the specified time.
- Analysis : Analysis is conducted to turn the generated ideas into a usable for information.
Brainstorming can be used to gather data and solutions or ideas from stakeholders, subject matter experts, and team members.
3.Check sheets :Check sheets are forms to collect data and they are also known as tally sheets if used to collect quantitative data .This can be used to capture data in a manner that will facilitate the effective collection of useful data about a potential quality problem. They are especially useful for gathering attributes data while performing inspections to identify defects; for example, data about the frequencies or consequences of defects collected.
4.Checklists : A checklist is a list of items, actions, or points to be considered. It is often used as a reminder. Risk checklists are developed based on historical information and knowledge that has been accumulated from similar projects and from other sources of information. They are an effective way to capture lessons learned from similar completed projects, listing specific individual project risks that have occurred previously and that may be relevant to this project. The organization may maintain a risk checklist based on its own completed projects or may use generic risk checklists from the industry. While a checklist may be quick and simple to use, it is impossible to build an exhaustive one, and care should be taken to ensure the checklist is not used to avoid the effort of proper risk identification. The project team should also explore items that do not appear on the checklist. Additionally, the checklist should be reviewed from time to time to update new information as well as remove or archive obsolete information.
5.Focus groups : Focus groups bring together prequalified stakeholders and subject matter experts to learn about their expectations and attitudes about a proposed product, service, or result. A trained moderator guides the group through an interactive discussion designed to be more conversational than a one-on-one interview.
6.Interviews : An interview is a formal or informal approach to elicit information from stakeholders by talking to them directly. It is typically performed by asking prepared and spontaneous questions and recording the responses. Interviews are often conducted on an individual basis between an interviewer and an interviewee but may involve multiple interviewers and/or multiple interviewees. Interviewing experienced project participants, sponsors, other executives, and subject matter experts can aid in identifying and defining the features and functions of the desired product deliverables. Interviews are also useful for obtaining confidential information.
7.Market research : It includes examination of industry and specific seller capabilities. Procurement teams may leverage information gained at conferences, online reviews, and a variety of sources to identify market capabilities. The team may also refine specific procurement objectives to leverage maturing technologies while balancing risks associated with the breadth of sellers who can provide the desired materials or services.
8.Questionnaires and surveys: Questionnaires and surveys are written sets of questions designed to quickly accumulate information from a large number of respondents. Questionnaires and/or surveys are most appropriate with varied audiences, when a quick turnaround is needed, when respondents are geographically dispersed, and where statistical analysis could be appropriate.
9.Statistical sampling : Statistical sampling involves choosing part of a population of interest for inspection (for example, selecting 10 engineering drawings at random from a list of 75). The sample is taken to measure controls and verify quality. Sample frequency and sizes should be determined during the Plan Quality Management process.
Source: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) –Sixth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc.,