Posted on July 16, 2009 by


The questionnaire is a commonly used tool utilized across many fields, including project management and business analysis. It is listed as a technique both of the fourth edition PMBOK®’s Collect Requirements process and as a technique of the BABOK® 2.0. It can be a cost-effective way to gather large amounts of data from individuals.

Questionnaires are easy to make, but they are hard to make well. Make certain there is a clear purpose for the questionnaire and that the target population is appropriately selected. The questions themselves may be close-ended (there is a provided set of choices) or open-ended (the respondent can give any answer). There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of question. Close-ended questions are much easier to analyze, but they prevent unique and insightful responses that may be critical in situations such as gathering requirements from a select group of stakeholders. The wording of questions must be clear, and shorter questions are preferable—especially if the questionnaire will be administered audibly. The questionnaire should not be so long that the respondents lose interest or refuse to participate altogether. Arrange the questions so that they flow logically, with some questions that are enjoyable to build rapport at the beginning, and any more personal or difficult questions at the end. It’s useful to have a pilot test of the questionnaire, as it can be surprising how people misinterpret questions.