In most survey reports, the law firm does not explain which survey software it used to create its set of online questions and capture the responses of the participants. Such software has been available for years. According to one online site, “The first online survey software and questionnaire tools initially surfaced in the late 1990s.” The author goes to differentiate the capabilities of free software from paid versions.
“Typically, paid versions of online survey software offer added capabilities such as:
Survey logic — paid tools often provide the option to add a follow up question. This is based on the answer you’ve provided to the previous question.
Export data — There are several tools that won’t let you export your survey data, unless you start using the paid version.
Custom logo — Looking to get rid of the survey tool’s logo and make it your own? With most paid versions this is possible.
More question types — Although free survey tools offer plenty of question types, including multiple choice, ratings, drop-downs and radio buttons, paid versions tend to offer even more.”
At various points I have encountered references to the following software:
NoviSurvey (Fulbright Jaworski used this software)
Qualrics In a previous post, Dec. 22, 2017, I mention a survey publicized by Seyfarth Shaw that used Qualtrics to host the survey.
Undoubtedly there are many more offerings that law firms can choose from. In fact, the commentary quoted above claims there are hundreds of offerings, and gives a list of 21.
As to the software that a law firm might use to carry out a survey project, the list is lengthy. Not that the firm itself needs to have each of the applications that are listed below, but from start to finish someone may need to deploy them.
- Database software for customer relations management (CRM) or some software to provide email addresses of invitees
- Bulk email software (e.g., ConstantContact) so that the firm can effectively invite its clients and others to take part in the survey
- Word processing software to draft questions, invitations and the text of the report
- Survey software (e.g., NoviSurvey, SurveyMonkey, SmartSurvey, Qualtrics, SurveyGizmo) to create an online questions and capture the responses of the participants
- Spreadsheet software (e.g., Excel) so that the firm can export the responses from the survey software into a worksheet and manipulate the data
- Statistical software (e.g., R, Stata, Excel, Tableau) so that an analyst can calculate various statistics
- Data visualization software (e.g., R, Excel or PowerPoint) so that an analyst can prepare plots and graphs
- Desktop publishing (e.g., LaTex, markdown languages, Adobe InDesign) so that the firm can integrate text, plots, tables and other elements into the report
- Presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint) or specialized software to prepare infographs
- Graphical design software (e.g., gimp, PhotoShop) so that the firm can work with images and photos and otherwise design the report as it wishes
- PDF software (e.g., Foxit, Adobe Acrobat, PScript5, ScanSoft, QuarkXPress) so the firm can save its report in a portable document format [see the plot below for more details]
- All kinds of other software are also involved, such as email, instant messaging, social media, website packages, video-conferences, calendaring, backup software and more.
The plot below examined data from 153 survey reports in PDF format. Of the set, 141 include metadata about the software used to create the report. The firms used nine different software packages although over the years they used multiple versions of the same package. Thus, for example, Adobe InDesign — all versions — dominated with more than 100 reports created with it.