1504.0 - Methodological News, Jun 2014  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/06/2014   
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Responsive Design in the Provider Contact Unit: a Quarterly Business Indicator Survey Case Study

In August 2013, an Economic and Environment Statistics Group workshop defined the priorities of a short term "sprint" project, of 3 months duration, to address current challenges and pressures facing business collection operations. One sprint project area was the Quarterly Business Indicator Survey (QBIS) case study of a responsive design approach to intensive follow-up (IFU).

QBIS has historically been a difficult survey for the Provider Contact Unit (PCU) to follow-up. In an attempt to meet specified live response rate targets, it requires repeated attempts to contact a large group of non-responding providers by phone. These follow-up processes are resource-intensive, and it is becoming increasingly important to fine tune current procedures such that follow-up is targeted to cases where it is likely to have the most benefit to the survey estimates through better sample representativeness.

Operations Research and Process Improvement section (ORPI) has developed a framework for applying a targeted follow-up approach to the problem of achieving a representative responding sample in a cost-efficient manner. The framework is designed to be applicable to both business and household collections, and to integrate with current processes, rather than requiring extensive changes to the collection process before it can be applied. Further information on the Responsive Design Framework will be available in a paper presented to the Methodology Advisory Committee in June 2014. This paper is available from the authors by request, until formally published.

The responsive design QBIS case study working group was formed in August 2013, with members from PCU, Quarterly Economy Wide Survey Business Survey Centre, ORPI and Business Survey Methodology section. This group was focused on the application of the responsive design framework to identify immediate strategies to reduce QBIS IFU cost.

Effective collaboration between group members resulted in identification of several defined strategies for application to specific subsets of non-responding units. Each strategy was trialled by applying a 50% random sample of the full target group – enabling production of Management Information throughout the IFU period, measuring progress of the strategy in comparison to standard procedures. The following proposed new IFU strategies were proved effective from the trial:

IFU beginning delayed by 15 days past QBIS due date for businesses responding without PCU contact in the previous quarter (labelled ‘gold provider’).

IFU beginning delayed by 15 days for businesses responding within 15 days of the QBIS due date in the previous quarter (labelled 'silver provider').

In combination, it was measured that these changes, which resulted in minimal impact to the live response rate, significantly reduced IFU effort required for this subgroup from the previous quarter. These proposed strategies were formally implemented in December quarter 2013, and compliment current procedures.

While the additional sprint strategies were successful, IFU is still an issue for QBIS. For this reason, the QBIS working group is continuing, investigating additional strategies aimed at cost reductions with minimal impact on response rates. In addition, the QBIS case study experience has highlighted potential for savings in IFU procedures across a range of other surveys, through application of the responsive design framework.

Further Information
For more information, please contact Damian Garrard (03 6252 7076, damian.garrard@abs.gov.au) or Philip Bell (08 8237 7304, philip.bell@abs.gov.au)

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