Our Data Quality Management for Market Research

Data Quality

At IFF International we are committed to our clients as well as our respondents to ensure the highest quality in both the implementation and the expedient results of our studies by means of extensive data quality control. Considering the highly data provided by our clients and respondents, data protection plays an essential role.


Which memberships and certifications does IFF International have to show?

IFF International is a member of the BVM (Professional Association of German Market and Social Researchers), the Esomar (European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research), and the adm (Association of German Market and Social Research Institutes).The Quality Management has been certified according to the international quality standard ISO 20252:2012, which specializes in requirements for organizations conducting market, opinion, and social research. IFF International has also been certified in accordance with the sector-neutral and in compliance with the provisions of regulation 679/2016.

data quality guidelineWhich guidelines are imposed on the employees of IFF International?

All employees of IFF International have signed agreements obligating them to comply with the data secrecy provisions of § 5 of the BDSG (Federal Data Protection Act) and the secrecy of data according to § 35 SGB I (Social Security Statute Book). The obligation of secrecy shall survive the termination of this agreement.

What happens with the data collected by IFF International?

All results of a survey are solely presented in an anonymized form and do not allow any trace to the personal identification of the participating respondents or institutions. Personal data is under no circumstances passed on to third parties.

Answers of our respondents are generally immediately processed electronically. The data is split from the addresses and converted into variables, so that no data can be traced back to the individual respondent. All interview data is evaluated without the name, address, telephone number, etc.

How does IFF International guarantee transparency with regards to the respondents?

We accord the highest priority to transparency, not only with regards to our clients but also to our respondents. Since July 1, 2009, all research institutes are required to display their number. IFF International complies with this specification in all of its three branches: Ulm (Germany), Palermo (Italy), and London (UK).

This way, every contacted potential respondent receives the chance to identify our research institute, even without answering our call.

cati fieldwork quality data

Which measures are taken to control the quality of the collected data?

The extensive Quality Management System of IFF International is subdivided into the following process stages:

Field Management
(standard trainings and an interviewer manual, monitoring, experience exchange groups, video-briefings, a central booking system)

Project Management
(on-site briefing with the clients, periodic status updates or online reportings, documentation of the process steps in a project management tool, controlling of the survey process by means of a software developed in-house)

Data Management
Our Data Managers are conducting continuous formal and contentual checks of our data sets during the course of each project and additionally before the data delivery to ensure that our clients receive solely applicable results. The data sets are checked with regards to completeness, questionnaire filters, quotas, duplicates, and similarities and a plausability check is conducted.

The processes are defined in our QM handbook and in compliance with the provisions of regulation 679/2016.

How does IFF International verify that the interviewers are eligible for the projects?

CATI fieldwork supervisor

Every new interviewer takes part in a mandatory 8-hour long training, in which the company IFF International is introduced, basics within the field of market research are explained, interviewer guidelines are clarified, and the different types of questionnaires are demonstrated. The working tools are presented and the interviewers receive the chance of listening in on an actual live session.

Additionally, every interviewer watches a specialized video-briefing before each new project, whichshows and explains all relevant information for the project, the individual sections of the questionnaire, and potential filters and individual variables in detail. If such a video-briefing is not available, a test interview can be conducted.

All interviewers sign a confidentiality agreement at the beginning of each project, which includes the provision to maintain and keep confidential any kind of information regarding individuals, legal persons, organizations, associations, institutions, etc. This ensures that no contents or parts of the questionnaire that are subjected to copyright are disclosed, that no data is left unattended, and that a correct approach during the interview, according to the indications set within the training and project manual, is kept. If no such agreement is available on the client side, IFF also offers a template.

Which control mechanisms exist in order to review the interviewer’s performance?

At IFF International 10% of all interviews are partially monitored, 5% of all interviews are completely monitored, and additionally 5% of all interviews are monitored to 75%.

Each interviewer involved in the survey must pass at least 2 mock interviews successfully before starting real calls. These mock interviews are conducted either among two interviewers or among the interviewer and a supervisor to let the interviewers familiarize themselves with the questionnaire, to help them understand the possible routings of the questionnaire, to give them the chance to develop their own introduction to convince respondents to take part in the study, and to prepare any interviewer to be able to promptly answer any questions from the respondents.

third parties MARKET RESEARCH

How does IFF International ensure that external third parties work in accordance with the quality requirements?

Provided that a cooperation with an external third party is requested or confirmed by a client, IFF International carefully chooses its sub-contractors. Every cooperation assumes a clear regulation of the competences and responsibilities. The complete order process is formalized and the sub-contractor’s obligation to data protection and secrecy is specified in a written contract. To that end, IFF International has established a network of partners in its core countries.

With regards to the quality control of interviewers conducting interviews via external third parties, if no internal employee of IFF International speaks the relevant language, a professional translator is assigned to evaluate the competences of each individual interviewer.

At least one recording of one so-called mock interview has to be evaluated and signed off by the translator before an interviewer may start to work on the project. Provided that the language level is adequate and additionally at least five of the following criteria are met, the interviewer may start calling:

  • Local dialects or accents (if so, it has to be evaluated if this dialect may constitute a problem for the project)
  • Following interviewer instructions
  • Friendliness and self-confidence
  • Verbatim reading of every question
  • Periodic repetition of scales and closed-ended questions
  • Probing of open-ended questions

data protection GDPR

Which changes and consequences does the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imply?

On May 25, 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation comes into force. The surveying of test persons without traceable consent was already prohibited under the Federal Data Protection Act. Starting in May, in the course of the new data protection directive, both principals and contractors are adhering in an external relationship. The EU regulatory authorities are boosting their staffing, enhancing the chances that violations will be detected.

We are currently undertaking a strict review of our Data Management Systems and are proactively initiating measures to show the concrete adoption of the measures that are necessary to ensure the application of regulation. An external certified technical institute for data protection is operating in an advisory function. Data protection has to be the most important subject for any employee in the field of market research.

Which measures have been introduced to secure the access to data?

Individualized access rights, regulations regarding user codes and the length and complexity of passwords, and a mandatory password change after 60 days are used to secure access to data. Only IT staff can reset passwords upon receipt of clear authentification. No old password may be re-used. After more than five false attempts to log on, access is denied. Keyboards and monitors are locked if not used for 10 minutes and can only be reset by re-entering the password.

Which regulations are in place regarding the storage and destruction of data after completion of a project?

The destruction of data is conducted and in compliance with the provisions of regulation 679/2016.

storage and destruction of data

Which measures are introduced to ensure physical data protection?

In accordance with § 9 of the Federal Data Protection Act and in compliance with the provisions of regulation 679/2016, our servers are located in locked cellar rooms and are secured by a burglary and fire alarm system.

Which measures have been set in place for the transmission of data?

Federal Data Protection Act

Data is exclusively transferred to authorized users with a transmission log. All addresses are documented along the transmission chain. All files are checked for completeness and accuracy.

Internally, files are transferred via the internal network or the secure data exchange portal. All use is logged for traceability.

Externally, files are encrypted as agreed with the receiver with password protection and strong encryption algorithm (standard: AES-256).

How does IFF International ensure data protection?

IFF International has installed numerous technical and organizational measures in accordance with § 9 Sentence 1 of the Federal Data Protection Act. In accordance with § 4 f. (1) of the Federal Data Protection Act, a company data protection supervisor has been appointed. The data is processed and stored in a computer center certified in accordance with ISO 27001.