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Using Software to Collect Data Electronically for the Economic Census

Using Software to Collect Data Electronically for the Economic Census

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Using Software to Collect Data Electronically for the Economic Census

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  1. Using Software to Collect Data Electronically for the Economic Census Amy E. Anderson & M. Diane Harley Presented by: Shirin Ahmed U.S. Census Bureau

  2. Outline • Background • What is an Economic Census? • The software • Research • Timeline • Findings • Challenges for the future

  3. What is an Economic Census? • Largest collection of economic data from establishments in the U.S. • Provides benchmark measures for the U.S. economy • Main use is for the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) • Collected every 5 years • Modes: Paper or electronic • Includes over 500 form types based on industry classification

  4. The Software: Surveyor • Windows based application • Downloadable • Internet • Business Help Site: www.census.gov/econhelp • Encrypted CD (when requested) • Also used to collect 3 surveys • Report of Organization (estab based) • Annual Survey of Manufactures (estab based) • Research and Development Survey (R&D) • Company based • Moving to the Web in the future

  5. Other electronic reporting options • Census Taker = Web Application • Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories, and Order (M3) Survey (monthly) • Quarterly Financial Report (QFR) • Quarterly Services Survey (QSS) • Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) • Annual Trade Survey (ATS) • Annual Capital Expenditures Survey (ACES) • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Survey • Survey of Plant Capacity Utilization (SPCU)

  6. The Surveyor Software

  7. Welcome Screen (page 2 in handout)

  8. Inbox View (page 3 in handout)

  9. Form View (page 4 in handout)

  10. Workbook View (page 5 in handout)

  11. Errors and Warnings View (page 6 in handout)

  12. The Surveyor Software:Additional Functionality • Exporting & Importing • Exporting • The software creates a spreadsheet containing location addresses and whatever data is within the software at the time of exporting • Columns per data field • Row per location • Exporting per form type • Importing • The software “imports" the spreadsheet back into Surveyor

  13. Outline • Background • What is an Economic Census? • The software • Research • Timeline • Findings • Challenges for the future

  14. Research Timeline • Early 2003 – Observational visits • 2002 Economic Census • Late 2003 – Debriefing interviews • 2004 / 2005 – Requirements gathering • In preparation for 2007 Economic Census • 2006 – Usability testing • Software prototype

  15. Research Findings • Response Process Findings • (Requirements Gathering) • Major Design Changes (Usability Testing)

  16. Response Process Findings • Task Analysis • How did you gather the data? • How are you searching your records? • Who did you work with? How? • How does the software assist / hinder with these tasks? • Evaluate the software against the tasks that R’s are doing • Results of that analysis assisted in the creation of prototypes for usability testing

  17. Response Process Findings:Use of Spreadsheets • Spreadsheets are an important tool during an economic census • Spreadsheets are used to: • Compare data • Gather data • Consolidate data • Verify data

  18. Response Process Findings:Use of Spreadsheets cont. • Compare Data • Prior to gathering data, R’s will compare our list of locations to their list of locations • Identify newly closed or opened locations • Identify mis-matched locations due to typographical differences

  19. Response Process Findings:Use of Spreadsheets cont. • Gather Data • Few respondents have access to all of the necessary data to complete an economic census form • R’s use spreadsheets to gather data from other employees

  20. Response Process Findings:Use of Spreadsheets cont. • Consolidate Data • Once the data is gathered, sometimes in pieces, it is then merged together onto one consolidated spreadsheet

  21. Response Process Findings:Use of Spreadsheets cont. • Verify Data • Once data gathering is complete, R’s sometimes compare reported data to aggregate company totals available in balance sheets and income statements to verify that the data is correct

  22. Research Findings • Response Process Findings • (Requirements Gathering) • Major Design Changes (Usability Testing) #1 New screens were added #2 Overhaul of exporting / importing feature #3 Redesigned Inbox View

  23. Design Change #1: New Screens Were Added • Workbook View

  24. Workbook View (page 5 in handout)

  25. Design Change #1: New Screens Were Added cont. • Workbook View • Respondents wanted a correctable “quick view” of their data • Very well received by respondents • Large companies • facilitate exporting/importing functionality • “eyeball” their imported data • make quick data changes • Medium/small companies • faster data entry • “like using a spreadsheet without having to export”

  26. Design Change #1: New Screens Were Added cont. • Error and Warning View

  27. Errors and Warnings View (page 6 in handout)

  28. Design Change #1: New Screens Were Added cont. • Error and Warning View • In the past, R’s could only view errors / warnings form by form • Now they can view all errors/warnings at one time • “eyeball” errors/warnings within ALL forms • sorting allows respondents to pick how they want to resolve their edits (by location or by type of edit) • Very well received by respondents

  29. Design Change #2:Overhaul of Exporting / Importing Feature • Flexible exported spreadsheets 2002: R’s could not move or delete rows or columns 2007: R’s can customize by deleting or moving columns

  30. Design Change #2:Overhaul of Exporting / Importing Feature cont. • Informative exported spreadsheets 2002 • Spreadsheets had one-word (sometimes cryptic) column title 2007 • More information within the column to help R’s answer each field • Welcome screen • Basic information on how to fill out the spreadsheet • Where to go for more help

  31. Design Change #3:Redesigned Inbox View • Identified and eliminated columns that weren’t useful, or were troublesome • Reordered columns to help emphasize more important ones • Example: errors and warnings were moved to a more prominent position • Added and updated customization options based on response process findings

  32. Outline • Background • What is an Economic Census? • The software • Research • Timeline • Findings • Challenges for the future

  33. Challenges for the future • Working with R’s who are restricted from downloading software (including Surveyor) onto their work PCs • Helping companies with diverse response processes use Surveyor • Using our Account Manager Program to help work with these diverse companies • Giving ‘tips’ in our mail out package, instructions, Business Help Site, etc.

  34. Challenges for the future cont. • Meeting the needs of single-establishment respondents • Possibly offering single-establishment companies the option of reporting on the Web for 2012

  35. Using Software to Collect Data Electronically for the Economic Census Questions Amy E. Anderson amy.e.anderson@census.gov 301-763-7544 U.S. Census Bureau