SharePoint surveys are a great tool when used correctly, but you should be aware of a few caveats that come with them. Like any SharePoint tool or function, it doesn’t work perfectly. But surveys can offer you some great insight into what your colleagues/users are thinking. Just know what you’re getting yourself into ahead of time.


Only site owners can create surveys

Unlike some other tools (like alerts and Outlook integration), creating surveys can only be done by a site owner. This is because SharePoint surveys are lists; only the site owner of the site where you want the survey to reside can create them, add questions, change permissions, etc. So, if you’re not a site owner, make friends with your organization’s SharePoint site owner, reach out to one, or ask your IT organization for a survey and explain to them how you’d like it set up.


There are better products out there, but that doesn’t mean you should use them

If you’re familiar with Google Forms and Survey Monkey, you may not be overly thrilled with SharePoint Surveys. Microsoft hasn’t really improved upon the functionality of surveys since SharePoint 2007. That said, the questions you’re asking may be sensitive to your company and even contain proprietary information that your IT organization—or even your legal department—doesn’t want hosted outside of your company’s servers. Before using outside software, always check with your IT organization to make sure it’s okay. Or, just use a SharePoint survey. They really are easy to use and offer a very quick, free solution that can meet your needs in most cases.


Logic branching isn’t perfect

Your survey must end on the same question, regardless of which branches your respondents followed through the survey. This can be annoying because it’s unlikely that branched questions would naturally lead to the same conclusion. The best work-around is to make one question that acts as the last question no matter the branch; basically, each branch points to that endpoint. You can make it be a checkbox that says “This concludes the survey. Please check the box, then press submit.” Not the most elegant solution, but it’s the best way around this limitation of the software.


“Respond to this survey” button not always intuitive

The “Respond to this survey” link on the Survey description page is not intuitively equal to “submit my response” to many people, which may impact which URL you send people to take your survey. This may sound kind of crazy, but sometimes you use a Survey to do something that isn’t intuitively seen as a “survey” to people, essentially placing a comprehension barrier in front of them and causing them to not respond. Remember, for the best results, make things as easy on your users as possible.


Incomplete responses are counted (sort-of)

If one of your users clicks “Respond to this survey” but closes the browser window without submitting their responses, SharePoint will still count that as a response. It will get its own ID number. However, the Site Owner will not be able to see the response because it was never submitted. If your Survey is set to only allow one response per user, that user will receive an error if they try to submit a response later on. As far as SharePoint is concerned, that person has already “responded”. To get around this, allow for multiple responses for a limited time to allow the respondent to submit their responses. Then toggle that setting back after they’ve completed it.

Buyer beware: SharePoint surveys

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