Implementation in 2010
The Software Industry Survey 2010 is coordinated by Aalto University, School of Science and Technology (former Helsinki University of Technology).
The project consists mainly of four parts: preparation of the run of the survey, data collection period, preparation and analyzing the data, and writing reports. This year the obligatory tasks for each participating country include at minimum data collection with preparations. More specifically, this includes constructing and updating the emailing lists, translating the questions to their native language, managing email communications, and endorsing the survey.
Preparing the survey
Preparation of 2010's run of the survey is started at the beginning of the year. Preparation period consists of two main parts: questionnaire form development and mailing list construction.
During the first year of international version of the Software Industry Survey, Aalto University has planned and developed the questionnaire form in collaboration with Infosector, Norway. In the following years, the purpose is to widen the question development so that all participating countries will be able to contribute to development of the theme section. The questionnaire form contains a cover and back letter, and a total of six pages of questions.
Compiling the mailing list
The mailing list is constructed by using the NACE industry classification codes and official company records added with company lists obtained from the funders and other partners of the survey. There are two reasons for taking the NACE codes as the basis for mailing list: First, compiling the mailing list becomes significantly simpler than before as firm lists and addresses for majority of the firms are fairly easy to obtain. Second, the sampling frames will be more similar in all countries allowing better comparison of the results.
Aalto University has at its disposal a database that comprises quite inclusive lists of companies in European countries. Based on the NACE codes, this database can easily be used to compile the initial list of firms for each country.
After building a list of firms, they need to be assigned with contact persons and email addresses. Contact persons can be obtained from the same database as the firms, but email addresses must to some extent be extracted from other sources, such as company websites. Some generic email addresses for firms are available in the database, but generally firm-specific addresses are preferred. We have developed some scripts and processes that are used to automatize the email searching to some extent, but it nevertheless requires some manual work.
Data collection period
This year data is collected mostly as an electronic survey. The advantages of running the survey in electronic form is that it makes the data collection simple and flexible. Recording the responses is done with an online survey software. The software is hosted by Aalto University, and is bought as a service from Digium Inc. Each participating country gets access to the system and all data collected in this year.
The efficiency of data collection is further improved by using a prenotice letter that is sent via postal mail to the respondents a couple of days before the invitation email is sent. The prenotice letter has a major effect in improving the response rate: Companies obtain several email survey invitations each week from different organizations, students, etc. Using the prenotice letter provides a valuable way to distinguish ourselves from these “regular” email surveys and positions ourselves above the other by showing that our survey is important. The Finnish Software Industry Survey has been using the prenotice letter in previous years with good success in enhancing the response rates.
Use of prenotice letter is not, however, required by participants. Although it is recommended, the survey can also be run as purely electronic form. Using the prenotice letter does bring some extra costs and additional work, although most of the work can be outsourced to mailing firms by providing them with a template of the letter and list of respondents with contact information.
Each participating country manages their own email communications, process undelivered mails, and update their mailing lists. Each country provides the updated contact lists before each emailing round as well as the reminder message in their own language to be sent our from Aalto University's computers. This approach has three advantages: First, invitations and reminders will be sent at the same time. Second, managing individual response links will be easier. Third, we already have mass-mailing software specifically designed for this purpose.
Data preparation and analyses
Aalto University will be doing most of the data analysis in 2010 regarding the main report of the survey. The reason why Aalto University is willing to take a large role is that we want to make participating in the study as easy as possible for new partners. Furthermore, this has the main benefit of obtaining a uniform analysis.
Writing the reports
This year the project will produce three types of reports: a main report, country-specific reports, and company reports.
Main report and country specific reports
The survey will produce a main report in English and country specific reports in native languages. The main report consists mostly of between-country comparisons and is written in neutral perspective focusing on the differences and similarities between countries. Country reports focus on analyses on specific countries being similar to the main reports generate by the Finnish Software Industry Survey in the previous years (see publications).
Aalto University will take the main responsibility in writing the English report for the first international run. It will be up to the other country organizations to translate the main report into their native languages if they so choose. The country-specific reporst are written by each participating country if they choose to do so. Thus writing a country report is not mandatory for participation.
Generating company reports
Company reports are send to each firm responding to the survey. The company reports consist of comparisons of the firm's responses to the survey and industry averages. This way the firm can benchmark its own performance to the rest of the industry. The Finnish Software Industry Survey has used company reports in several years and it is highly valued among software firms. An example of the firm report from 2007 can be found here in Finnish.
The company reports will by default be done similarly for each participating country. Producing the reports requires some programming skills, so for the cost-efficiency the initial plan is that Aalto University produces these reports for the first international run of the survey. Additionally, each country can of course do their own firm reports if they will.
The survey is run during the spring and summer 2010. The starting time for data collection has been set to the beginning of May, and it will be kept open until the summer vacation period. Initially the purpose is to publish the results of the survey in a form of main report after summer. Below you can find a preliminary schedule for this years run (still subject to change).