Perseus Partners with National Center for Missing Adults to Help Obtain Critical Information
Perseus was contacted by The National Center for Missing Adults (NCMA) to facilitate and strengthen the national organization's information feedback process. The National Center for Missing Adults, a division of the Nation's Missing Children Organization, Inc., is part of a 501c (3) non-profit organization tasked by the US Department of Justice to serve as the nation clearinghouse for missing adults. The NCMA was formally established after the passage of Kristen's Law (H.R. 2780) by the 106th United States Congress on October 26th, 2000 (S11181). As directed by H.R. 2780, NCMA provides services and coordination between various government agencies, law enforcement, media, and most importantly - the families of missing adults. The NCMA also maintains a national database of missing adults determined to be "endangered" or otherwise at-risk.
The National Center for Missing Adults needed to fulfill a mandate: since receiving their designation as a national clearinghouse for missing adults, the NCMA is required to conduct feedback surveys and report the results. It became imperative that they formalize their feedback process from families of missing persons to gauge the NCMA's performance associated with the handling of their missing persons case. Because the Center has an average of 1200 active missing person cases on-going each year, the collection of accurate information is vital.
The NCMA's existing feedback process was completely manual and "paper based" in both delivery and recording of results. This severely limited their ability to conduct frequent feedback touch points with the people they serve and made processing the results they did get back very difficult. They would have to save all of the paper survey forms, and then do periodic "tally" counts to determine the results for that survey period.
Given the administrative burden, despite their desire to have more frequent feedback on their services, and to collect feedback on new services and programs, they simply did not have the capacity to do so. Given that the only way to respond to their surveys was via mail, they also believed that the lack of an "online" option contributed to their poor response rates. Additionally, the organization's small staff needed to focus most of their time, effort, and resources on helping families, assisting victims, and coordinating with law enforcement and other organizations/agencies.
After researching various related companies, the NCMA chose Perseus SurveySolutions® Enterprise as the most comprehensive and versatile package. "I was very impressed with the user interface, and that the survey offered multiple response channels (online and mail)," said Eric Paschal, Information Systems Program Director at the National Center for Missing Adults.
According to Eric, the time involved with the overall implementation of SurveySolutions Enterprise was minimal. This included installing the software itself, as well as loading the Center's existing survey into the software. Eric installed the server program, which utilizes his existing investment in hardware and the Microsoft SQL Server database platform. The portal allows him access to easy-to-use text and graphical real-time results reporting. In this way, he can quickly and easily check the progress of a given survey, and deliver quick ad-hoc results.
In addition, the NCMA uses the server software survey processor to manage their online surveys directly (versus exporting to HTML and placing on another server). By doing so, they can take advantage of the added functionality available, and the results are immediately added to the database without any effort on their part. Distributing online surveys is now just a matter of adding or e-mailing a link. Their clients can then participate in the survey directly through their web browser, saving the Center postage and resources. This makes participation on the respondent's part easier, and consequently much more likely.
The desktop ‘client program' is used by critical staff members to export survey results in PowerPoint and RTF format, where they can then review and act upon them if needed. They use the client program mostly to create / modify / deploy surveys with the WYSIWYG editor. The client program is often used to create masters for paper versions of their surveys. When results are mailed in (via post), this program allows them to quickly and easily key those results into the database – where they are merged with results received through the online channel, as well. Even input of submissions via the traditional "mail in" response channel is greatly reduced by the use of the client program.
Eric says that SurveySolutions has offered the Center, among other things, the following important solutions:
- Ability to distribute surveys across multiple channels, and centralize feedback received from those channels in one database.
- An easy-to-use program that helped them to create surveys in a consistent format.
- A very robust reporting structure, with the ability to export ready-to-go or customized results to Microsoft office programs (like PowerPoint and Word).
- A platform from which they can easily and rapidly deploy feedback initiatives.
"For the first time, we can use an online solution to truly benefit our management team, and in turn, those we support," said Eric. "Our organization currently has ten employees to handle administrative and case management issues. Given the large amount of people we serve, it's imperative that we utilize efficient and effective software solutions at every opportunity to enable us to maximize the level of service our staff is able to offer."
The Center's first implementation of SurveySolutions Enterprise was for their performance evaluation victim assistance survey where they surveyed families of missing persons to gauge the Center's performance across multiple criteria associated with the handling of their missing persons case. Additionally, the Center implemented an online-only web feedback survey, using one of the survey templates provided with the software. This on-going survey measures the usability of their website, the types of people using the site, and how they heard about the site. It also allows the NCMA to get ideas for future modifications that would help to improve usability.
"With regard to our website feedback survey, we now have a clear idea on the primary demographics of our users," said Eric. "More importantly, we have implemented certain requested changes which have – as a result – improved usability."
"We had a critical need for a complete end-to-end solution to manage, collect, and report on client feedback," said Eric. "We needed to give our clients the ability to participate in feedback surveys online (thus eliminating input hours), while still allowing for traditional response methods. Since implementing SurveySolutions Enterprise, we've been able to distribute surveys across multiple channels, and centralize feedback received from those channels in one database. The software's robust reporting structure, with the ability to export ready-to-go or customized results to Microsoft office programs, has been ideal. It's one thing to have the data in hand, but it's quite another to have a program that helps you to manage and present that data in a meaningful way – so that you can see the whole picture and can act accordingly on those results."
The functionality of SurveySolutions Enterprise not only addressed the NCMA's current needs, but also addressed any conceivable future needs they might have. This has opened up new possibilities for future initiatives that they could easily deploy including feedback from new programs, newsletters, and anywhere they want to gauge impact.
"Had it not been for the use of SurveySolutions, we would not have even been able to conduct an online survey at all," said Eric. "We plan on using SurveySolutions in the future to gauge the effectiveness of various services offered by our organization. "Using that feedback, we can gauge what works best – and tailor those services to better meet the needs of those we serve!"