Title A new efficiency oriented approach for Official Business Web surveys
Workshop Workshop 2014
Year 2014

Purpose: ISTAT Business Statistical Portal implements a new approach for the organization and management of data collection processes. It constitutes a single entry point for web-based data collection from enterprises according to a “business-centric” perspective. It implies the acceleration of the harmonization of survey questionnaires both in terms of concepts treated and features of electronic questionnaires. Design methodology: The system brings together the rationalization of the communication flows originated by the official statistical surveys and the provision of new integrated functions supporting respondents in several areas: survey unit management, information updating, data collection activities management, delegation facilities in filling-in questionnaires, and electronic questionnaires access. A basic aspect of this new model concerns the harmonization of survey questionnaires, in the perspective of improving quality and containing the respondent burden. This is pursued through the definition of recommended practices for questionnaires design, which take into consideration an hybrid response model based on a cognitive approach. Findings: At standard use the Portal will involve forty-six business surveys, currently conducted by Istat, and about 200 thousand enterprises. As a first stage the system has been set up on a sample of big enterprises (more than five hundred employs), that respond on average to ten surveys each, with a maximum of seventeen. The strategy is to support first these big enterprises, so up to now about 1200 of them have been included in the Portal (involving forty-four surveys), which will be extended to all respondents during 2015. In the meanwhile, a manual of recommended practice has been produced to re-design questionnaire aligned in terms of a layout, features and integrated metadata, which will allow to reduce redundancies due to similar questions in questionnaires of different surveys. Originality: This Portal provides new functionalities both for internal production sectors and for respondents: the survey management as well as the update of registry information are centralized, and the monitoring of data collection is improved through the production of a set of indicators. Another component of this “business-centric” approach is a section where personalized statistical information is available for the companies, like the main short-term statistical indicators (production index, domestic end non-domestic turnover index, output prices index) and other external trade data. The new approach for questionnaires, with the aim of reducing redundancies and enhancing quality, identifies a set of questions to collect the perceived respondents burden and suggests the analysis of paradata to improve questionnaire design. Research limitations/implications: Some restrictions must be considered, like legal response duties and other bureaucratic and administrative constraints (e.g. the compulsory use of certified electronic mail). In addition European regulations on surveys strictly define the questionnaire contents, and often their structure, which represent a constraint when optimizing questionnaire design according to the data collection technique. Practical implication: Even if this new approach implies a big effort in this first stage, requiring specific support to enterprises (particularly the small ones), in the long run it will involve the reduction of resources, both in terms of statistical burden on respondents (simplification of their duties and elimination of redundancies) and of costs met by ISTAT, due to the centralisation of many functions.