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How to Schedule and Sequence Data Gathering

Data gathering that interferes with other work assignments will result in those other assignments being neglected as well as in faulty data for the study.

Where should you begin in the job analysis process? Learn more about it here.

Input from subjects on when to schedule data acquisition by work logs, interviews, filming, and such must be encouraged. Employees can tell you when they can best fit in their data-providing obligations.
Once employee input has been received--and this can start during the previous orientation period--a firm, time-lined schedule should be developed. When the study will begin and end, when subjects are supposed to turn in logs and questionnaires, when observations and filming will take place—all these considerations should be formulated and clearly communicated to subjects well in advance.
This will allow employees time to rearrange some of their activities to accommodate the time constraints of the study. Of course the analyst must remain flexible. Not always, for example, will you be able to conduct interviews as scheduled. However, need to deviate from your schedule should be rare if proper planning is done.
In addition to proper timing, it is important to sequence the multiple methods you use to gather data. Time logs are good to run ahead of questionnaires because they help get workers to see what they are doing before they have to answer questions about this in the questionnaire. Questionnaires ought to be completed before interviews are conducted. There are some methods such as work sampling and filming that can be implemented at most any time and yield full, rich data.
Sequencing sources, as well as methods, may be important too. Information gathered from certain sources can lead you to fuller data generation from other sources. For example, it is generally best to interview incumbents about their jobs before interviewing the peers of incumbents.
Formulating and sticking to a schedule and a predetermined sequence in data gathering will help assure that all subjects are treated the same during the analysis. It will help assure that the analysis is, in fact, completed and that it does not "drift" into other time frames, causing an unexpected interference with operations or the generation of suspect data.
Gather the Data
After time lines have been set, the actual gathering of data can begin. The analyst, manager, or other persons charged with assuring time lines are adhered to must monitor the data-gathering process to make sure questionnaires, logs, and other forms come in according to plan. If some incumbents fail to submit certain data, they must be reminded promptly and urged to get the material in as soon as is possible.
Analysts, or others, must remain available to provide help to subjects who may have problems or difficulties developing the written data required for questionnaires, logs, and forms. As mentioned earlier, ideally the analyst would initiate contact with subjects to spot any developing difficulties before serious problems arise.
The analyst, or others guiding the project, must be sensitive to incumbent attitudes and motivation during the data acquisition process and initiate any action required to keep up subject desire to see the process through. For example, sometimes an analyst can arrange for another employee to take over one's job while that person is being interviewed. This may create a positive attitude on the part of the subject because he or she will be assured that while they are being interviewed a burdensome work backlog is not piling up. Above all, the point is that the process of gathering data must be controlled.
Resolve Discrepancies in Data
Once all data are collected from all sources and by all planned means, they must be scrutinized for inconsistencies and possible errors. If, for example, data collected about the incumbent's job by interview with the incumbent do not agree with data collected about the incumbent's job by interview with the incumbent's supervisor, then discussions--perhaps a meeting with analyst, supervisor, and incumbent present-must be held to resolve the differences. Similarly, if data collected by work log from the incumbent do not agree with data collected by interview with the incumbent, action must be pursued to resolve differences.
The resolution of discrepancies can take up considerable resources and time, and may be an extremely frustrating process for those involved. But this effort is at the heart of developing accurate pictures of the work. It is because data by different means and from different sources are not likely to be the same that job analysis should involve multiple means and sources. One source and means serves as a check on another.
If discrepancies are too serious, it may be necessary to redo the study of the job or to pursue data with other data-gathering devices and from other sources. Sometimes intensive interviewing can resolve such discrepancies. Sometimes bringing other parties, familiar with the job or peripherally associated with the job, into an in-depth discussion can resolve the problem. Usually substantial additional analysis will be required.
Write a Preliminary Job Description
After the data are accumulated by all means from all sources, and discrepancies resolved, the analyst can put together a coherent description of the design of the job. This description should be an accurate reflection of how the incumbent actually uses his or her time. It should show the actual work environment, tools and equipment, responsibilities, independent authority exercised, and so on, that demonstrate one’s use of time. This description should not represent an attempt to shape the job into a desired design or to distort the real picture of work to show what the ideal would be like. Though this is a preliminary job description, it should contain all the sections, all the types of information, and well-written task statements just as if it were a final description.
This document must be a complete and accurate description of the job. It should be circulated between superior and subordinate with adjustments in content and structure continually made until both agree that it is a full and accurate representation of the job's design. The analyst will often want to help this refinement effort by doing additional interviewing or other data gathering to clarify unclear points.
In writing job descriptions it can be extremely helpful to complete a number of related job descriptions at once. The insights gained in writing one job description will lead to better understanding of what should be written in the other job descriptions. Understanding of a given job can be highly enhanced by building a larger understanding of related or associated jobs--that is, jobs in the same department or at the same organizational level.
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