The initial phase of a survey must consist of a detailed assessment of both the demand for identified statistics and the capacity—technical, financial, and organizational—of the statistical organization to produce them.
This phase consists of six sub-processes:
- 1.1.Determine information needs - This includes consideration of practices, especially survey methods, used by national and international statistical organizations producing similar data and conducting similar surveys.
- 1.2.Consult and confirm information needs - A good understanding of user needs is required so that the statistical organization knows not only what it is expected to deliver, but also when, how, and, perhaps most importantly, why. This sub-process focuses on consulting with stakeholders. Second and subsequent iterations of this phase will focus on determining whether previously identified needs have changed. This detailed understanding of user needs is the critical part of this sub-process.
- 1.3.Establish the output objectives - This sub-process identifies the statistical outputs required to meet user needs identified in sub-process 1.2., including establishing agreement with users as to the suitability of the proposed outputs.
- 1.4.Identify concepts - This sub-process clarifies the required concepts to be measured by the survey from the user’s point of view. At this stage, the concepts identified may not align with existing statistical standards. This alignment and the definition of the statistical concepts and variables to be used is addressed in sub-process 2.2.
- 1.5.Check data availability - This sub-process checks whether current data sources could meet user requirements and the conditions under which they would be available, including any restrictions on their use. An assessment of possible alternatives would normally include research into potential administrative data sources and their methodologies to determine whether they would be suitable for use for statistical purposes. When existing sources have been assessed, a strategy for filling any remaining gaps in the data requirement is prepared. This sub-process also includes a general assessment of the legal framework in which data would be collected and used, and may therefore identify proposed changes to existing legislation or introduction of a new legal framework.
- 1.6.Prepare business case - This sub-process documents the findings of the other sub-processes in the form a business case that will achieve approval to implement the new or modified statistical business process. Such a business case would typically also include:
- A description of the “as-is” business process (if it exists), with information on how the current statistics are produced, and highlighting any inefficiencies and issues to be addressed;
- The proposed “to-be” solution, detailing how the statistical business process will be developed to produce new or revised statistics; and
- An assessment of costs and benefits, as well as any external constraints.