Step 1: Form a Project Team
Review all steps in the process of planning a survey project:
- Step 1: Form a Project Team.
- Step 2: Form an Advisory Group.
- Step 3: Define Your Goals.
- Step 4: Plan a Communications Strategy.
- Step 5: Set the Stage for Conducting the Survey.
- Step 6: Develop an Evaluation Plan.
Once a sponsor has decided to conduct a CAHPS project, one of the first tasks is to assemble a project team.
Composition of the Team
A project team typically includes the following members:
- Technical staff who carry out survey and reporting tasks and supervise vendors;
- Staff from survey or reporting vendors or a consultant who can provide expert advice and assistance on data collection and analysis issues;
- Representatives of organizations interested in and affected by your project. (One alternative is to invite these stakeholders to be part of an advisory group. However, the project team should include representatives of funding organizations or stakeholders with some operational responsibility, such as health plans required to draw the sample); and
- Benefits counselors and other intermediaries who are involved in disseminating CAHPS results.
Role of an Outside Consultant. Consultants can be a useful addition to your team, especially if you lack technical expertise in one or more areas. You may want to hire different consultants for different aspects of the project (e.g., a statistical consultant as well as an expert on consumer reports) or one consultant who has expertise in all facets of a survey project. Depending on the scope of your project, the consultant may participate only in the planning phase or over the entire project period.
Tip: Before contracting with someone, make sure you're clear on the skills and knowledge you need someone to bring to the team. Your vendor may have staff with the technical expertise you are seeking.
Size of the Team
A project team should be composed of the individuals needed to plan and carry out a survey and reporting project. The team does not have to be large, but no individual can conduct the project alone. For example, if your project has a narrow scope and limited resources to support it, you may choose to have a small team consisting of only a project manager with other staff called upon to provide advice or technical assistance as needed.
Involving Other Organizations. At the earliest stage, participants in the project team may be limited to the staff of the sponsoring organization. After the project is under way, you may want to expand the team to include individuals from other stakeholder organizations.
In particular, if a consortium is conducting the project, representatives from each participating consortium member should be on the project team.
Management of the Team
A project team is usually headed by a project director who
- Sets policies
- Provides overall supervision of the project
- Acts as a liaison to major stakeholders
Responsibilities of the Team
Members of the project team will play various roles during the course of the project. Major staffing responsibilities include
- Providing overall direction and design leadership;
- Setting the goals for the survey project;
- Determining what resources are available to carry out the project;
- Deciding on the content of the survey (e.g., which questionnaires to administer, whether to add supplemental items to the questionnaires);
- Using survey results;
- Deciding how to use CAHPS survey results (e.g., incorporating them into existing [or planned] efforts to select plans or providers, informing target audiences about the quality of those plans or providers);
- Deciding on the content of reports;
- Planning and conducting a communications campaign;
- Overseeing the preparation, production, and distribution of reports;
- Determining whether and how to support audiences (including intermediaries and health care organizations) in using the reports;
- Managing the administration of the survey
- Working with a consultant or consulting firm to get advice about sampling design, data collection and analysis, reporting, and other technical issues;
- Contracting with the vendor(s) (which includes writing the RFP, evaluating the proposals, and hiring them);
- Supervising the vendors' work during the survey and reporting phases;
- Overseeing analysis of the data;
- Handling any followup activities, such as creating or changing health benefits policies or developing educational programs about provider quality and choice issues
- Serving as a point of contact for questions once the survey results have been published (which may involve handling communication about the project with media and others)
- Overseeing an evaluation of the project
Learn more about the specific responsibilities of sponsors, vendors, and consultants. (PDF Version, 50 KB)
You may not have to assign a different person for each task, as some team members may be responsible for more than one task. Also, if the expertise exists in-house, one of your own staff members may be able to take on the responsibilities outlined for a consultant. You can also obtain technical assistance from the CAHPS User Network for some of the tasks typically assigned to a consultant, such as advice on adding supplemental items or assistance in using the analysis program.