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Qualitative Data Collection vs. Quantitative Data Collection

October 15, 2019

Data collection can be beneficial for just about any business. You can streamline processes and workflows by asking the same questions across your entire workforce, and receiving the information in a specified format.

It isn’t just about the data collection itself, though. The data you’ve gathered will help you identify trends in your business, remain compliant, and even make better decisions, which can be a competitive advantage for any company.

So how can you be sure you’re collecting the right data?

First, you’ll want to define your goals. Once you have an idea of the problem you’re trying to solve, you will be well on your way to developing your data-collection form. Start thinking about what questions you’ll want to ask to help you achieve your goals (don’t look at your existing forms yet — you might come up with some new ideas this way). Make sure you write your ideas down. Next, if you have paper forms that you’re currently using, grab one and use it as a starting point for creating your mobile data collection form in Fulcrum.

Most companies use a mixture of qualitative and quantitative survey questions so let’s define the difference between the two types of data. Then we’ll review the pros and cons of each.

What is Quantitative Data?

The easiest way to remember the meaning of “quantitative data” is to remember that it is something you can quantify. You can use this type of data to measure the intensity (such as how severe damage is to help you assign a priority level) or identify the frequency of something (e.g., how often one service is performed compared to another).

Quantitative survey questions will be closed-ended or measurable. They may be “yes/no” questions, or answers may be expressed in a numerical format or on a rating scale. Quantitative responses usually answer the questions, “When?” “Where?” “Who?” or “How much?”

In Fulcrum, you can easily collect quantitative data using the numeric, yes/no, single choice or multiple choice fields.

How to Use Quantitative Data

You may make a pie chart of how many surveys were answered yes vs. no.

You can plot on a map how many manhole covers need repair in a specific geographic area.

You can use a checkbox to determine which job issues occur most often so you can help your team be more efficient.

The Pros

Quantitative data is easy to pull into reports and dashboards because the information that is collected will be uniform, no matter where it came from.

The Cons

Quantitative data doesn’t always tell the whole story. Unfortunately, everything isn’t always cut and dry, so it can be helpful to ask some follow-up questions in the form of qualitative questions.

Quantitative data can be visualized in maps, charts, and graphs.

What is Qualitative Data?

Qualitative data is collected by asking open-ended questions. It may be in the form of a follow-up to a quantitative question or it may be in the form of notes or comments. It will help you gain additional insights but will not be consistent in its format.

You can collect qualitative data in Fulcrum using text fields, photos, video, and audio!

How to Use Qualitative Data

You can obtain a more detailed description of work that was performed on the job site.

You can identify trends across your workforce or across job sites that can help you make more educated decisions or understand inefficiencies better.

You can collect ideas or opinions from the field that may help you solve problems sooner.

The Pros

It gives you a lot more detailed information and may answer the question of “Why?” or “How?”

The Cons

It is more difficult to report on qualitative data because two people may say the exact same thing, but they may describe it differently. Since this type of data requires free-typing, language and grammar can affect the data quality. Qualitative data takes more time to process and will need a human or artificial intelligence (AI) bot to do the analysis.

Here is an example of a quantitative vs. qualitative question and response:

QuantitativeQualitativeCheck all job issues that applyDescribe all job site issues

  • Coordination Issue
  • Progress Delayed
  • Deficient Crew Size
  • Weather Delay
  • Personnel
  • Deficient Work
  • Special Inspection- NCR
  • Request for Information (RFI)
  • Material Delivery Delay
  • Change Order Request
  • None

The job was delayed due to extreme weather. The scheduled start time was 9:00 am and due to lightning, we weren’t able to get started until 10:20 am. John Smith was scheduled to be at another job site at 10:30 am so he had to leave and we were short one contractor, causing it to take us longer to complete the job.

As you collect information, you may find you have more questions you want answered. Fulcrum makes it easy for you to continuously improve your data collection process. Simply log in to your account on your computer, make the changes or additions to your form and save. They will be deployed in real time to your field crews.

With the Fulcrum app, businesses are able to implement bring-your-own-device (BYOD) data collection processes. Field workers can download the Fulcrum app for iOS or Android for free onto their mobile device. Your technicians will no longer have to worry about taking their clipboards back each evening, or trying to decipher illegible handwriting. It’s all done within the app. Our customers have not only said Fulcrum app saves them time and money, but it also helps them provide better services to their customers.

Give Fulcrum a try.