Plain English Site Survey Reports

Following a wireless site survey, many organisations are sent automated wireless site survey reports in excess of 80 pages.  These tree-unfriendly documents are the result of a click of a button on site survey software which spits out a colourful but massive report in a few seconds.

For a business however, they are about as readable and interesting as a dot matrix printout of line items at a warehouse.  Everyone remember dot matrix printers?

Essentially, an automated site survey report is raw data.  Factual, accurate and…Unhelpful.  It doesn’t tell the business anything.  A business without wireless specialists (the majority) will look at it and still have fundamental questions:

  • The heat maps are all green, so why is my WiFi rubbish?
  • What are your recommendations?
  • Should I be worried, is this normal?
  • Is -50dBm bad?  It sounds bad.
  • What is Channel Overlap? Do we need more of it?
  • This is unintelligible.

It is nice marketing by wireless survey software vendors, to say ‘Hey, just press this button and your job is done; report generated. You can even put your own logo/branding in.’  It sounds good in theory and it actually is a real time-saver.  But, does your doctor hand you a blood analysis report – composed of fun latin names – and leave you to interpret it on your own?

Myself, I created a template in MS Word.  Each survey report is written in plain english, removing jargon wherever possible and customised to address the reason for the site survey in the first place.  For example: to troubleshoot poor performance or to prove a new service works as designed or, a pre-deployment survey of the current environment.

The report’s content is supported by adding screenshots/tables from the survey into the body of the document or as an appendix.  It also avoids sending a 20MB attachment of irrelevant data to my client.

This is my personal way of doing things and so far, customer feedback has been very positive.

In summary, I think if automated reports are going to be used and sent to customer IT managers, then at minimum they should be accompanied by a separate document. A summary in plain english that offers analysis, findings of interest and (if requested) recommendations.

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Plain English Site Survey Reports

  1. Thanks Phil, I can’t agree more! I never (NEVER) use the canned reports for any site surveys. Results should always be clear and concise. At the end of the day, a customer is buying a design, which comes down to dots on a floorplan. There is no reason the results can’t be clear, and I rely on Visio for that.

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    • Thanks for the comment Steve.
      If the purpose of the survey is to gather information to feed into a WiFi design (such as ideal AP placement – aka the dots on floorplan) then its rare for me to even send the customer the site survey results. The survey is a necessary pre-requisite to gather information about the environment so that the architect can do their job. We the architects pull info from the survey and combined with requirements discussions, it assists with types/numbers of APs, where the APs will go, gotchas to be aware of, etc. Customer can always ask for the results of course.

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