Don’t Settle. Get The Right Data Collection Tool For Your Survey

Ona Staff
September 15, 2016

Whether you are an organization carrying out humanitarian/development initiatives around the world, or a student carrying out research for a project, when it comes to selecting a data collection tool for your next survey, choosing the first result on Google’s first page may not be the wisest choice to make. You have to be thorough and do your ‘due diligence’ when choosing a provider.

Here’s a list of the most important things to consider when choosing a survey tool:

1. Mobile Capabilities

In this increasingly mobile world, you require a tool that gives you access to your data from anywhere. This is especially important if your project spans multiple locations and involves many collaborators.

Carry out surveys from anywhere on practically any modern mobile device using Ona’s data collection tools, ODK Collect and Enketo.

2. Offline Capabilities

A majority of humanitarian and development projects are carried out in developing nations. These countries often experience unreliable internet connections. To ensure that your survey goes on without any hitches, you need a tool that can work regardless of an internet connection. Save money on mobile data.

Whether you’ve installed ODK Collect on your mobile device or are using Enketo webform, breathe easy knowing that your offline submissions will be automatically synced to Ona once your internet connection is restored.

3. Project Management Capabilities

As a project leader, you need to be in control of the data collection process. The need to collaborate with your team members while still retaining the privacy of your data is a step towards ensuring data quality and security. Consider a data collection tool that gives you the ability to set up access level controls.

Manage multiple projects and teams by using organization accounts and permission levels in Ona.

4. Data Visualization and Analysis Capabilities

Seeing your data in graphic format gives you a different perspective of what’s happening on ground. Don’t wait till the last minute to know what’s happening in the field. It is important you consider a tool that gives you the ability to visualize and analyze your data in real-time.

Try Ona for its beautiful dashboards, charts, graphs and maps. Get real-time updates about your data in Ona.

5. Integration Possibilities

If you have a custom way of reporting on data or your own preferred data analysis tools, then this should be one of the questions you should ask your potential service provider. Does the platform’s API allow you to customize it to carry out your desired action? How compatible is the platform with other file formats and data formats?

Extend the functionality of your data in Ona for analysis and messaging by using Google Sheets and RapidPro/TextIt in Ona Apps. Ona also supports RHumanitarian Exchange Language and file formats such as XLS, KML, CSV, Google Sheets, JSON, and SAV.

6. Security is KEY

You require a tool that takes your data as seriously as you do. Consider a tool that uses encryption to secure your data. This means that, even in the event that someone manages to gain unauthorized access to your data, they still won’t be able to decipher the information.

Ona secures your data while at rest in our data centres and in transit using AES-256 encryption. All our forms are also encrypted, HTTPS for server-client connections and A+ certified server-client SSL configuration.

7. Support

What happens if you suddenly can’t access the data you collected? Or can’t collect data because of a bug? A scary moment isn’t it? Even though rare, you need a tool that is ready to handle any situation. Consider a tool that offers on-call support for emergency cases.

Ona’s dedicated multi-lingual support team spans 14 different timezones. We will get you back up and running faster than it took you to raise a support ticket.

8. Reviews and Case Studies

No one wants to be a guinea pig. Knowing who uses the tool is the most important information you can have. Reach out to the users directly and ask them about their experience. You’ll be surprised at how you’ll receive really honest feedback from another user. Read through case studies, online reviews and blogs to find out about similar use cases.

Who’s using Ona? World Health Organization, DFID, World Bank, SDI and many other social change makers around the world trust Ona for data collection.

8. Cost vs Return on Investment

Most data tools (if not all) have a subscription based business model. The recurring cost is an important thing to take into account, as well as the platform’s capabilities. I mean, are the features supporting the tool helping you save money or simplify a task? Is the recurring cost reasonable? What is the payment model? How do I cancel my subscription? How secure is your payment platform? Are some of the questions you should ask. Be sure to take into consideration the overall ROI you will get.

At Ona, we make sure we understand your project’s unique needs so as to provide tailored solutions and clear advice on the support Ona can accord your project.