You have probably heard a lot about data-based decision making. It’s a practice that is essential for local governments to move their communities forward. For cities and towns that consistently conduct surveys, “data-based decision making” is more than just a buzz phrase. Survey research expert Damema Mann has seen her fair share of results put to good use. In this video, she describes five of the best ways you too can use survey data in your own community.
Whether data come from a survey of residents, employees, local business owners or any other group, the results can help you see the bigger picture. For example, decision-makers may use community survey data when considering new initiatives. Managers may survey employees to help determine ways to increase job satisfaction. A business climate survey can help leaders understand what local businesses need to thrive.
Budget and Allocate Resources
A great many of National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) local government clients rely on survey data to decide how they will allocate funds. Data can indicate which programs may need more or less resources. Assessing how well survey results match up with community or organizational goals is the key to backing a budget with evidence.
Conducting a survey is a great way to help determine targets to reach for. And gathering trend data over time will allow you to clearly see how programs and services are measuring up to those goals. How well is the city serving its residents? Are your employees happy with their career opportunities? Where does your town need to go from here? Survey data can help answer all these questions.
Engage the Community
It is important for your residents to have the opportunity to share their opinions with you. It is equally important for them to feel confident that their voices are being heard. Within the organization, managers must also engage employees. Ultimately, representative results allow leaders to move beyond reacting to the lone, squeaky wheel. Conducting a survey is a proactive approach to initiating and completing the communication loop with all stakeholders.
Improve Public Trust
A citizen survey can show residents that you want to hear from them. Openly publishing results proves they were heard. Describing to the public how those data will be used in planning and budgeting proves that their voices mattered. Thus, surveys can help greatly to improve civic trust and strengthen community bonds. In the same way, surveys can improve trust within the organization.