Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions2019-05-08T17:30:46-06:00

Visible Network Labs Pricing and Policies

Q: Is there a cost involved in using PARTNER?

A: You have access to the data uploader, data visualizer, our recorded webinars and demos, and access to the community forum for free. Every user has access to one free survey builder survey and access the Social Determinants of Health survey with the PCN App for three respondents. To purchase the survey builder ($50/survey), respondents for the PCN App ($40/20 respondents), data dashboards ($15/month) and reports ($5 an image). 

Purchase items here: https://visiblenetworklabs.com/pricing/.

If you have specific pricing questions, please feel free to contact the PARTNER team at partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com. We will be happy to talk to you about your specific pricing questions.

Disclaimer: The fee charged is to get access to use PARTNER. No additional TA is provided except the consult provided in your subscription or assistance with technical issues related to using PARTNER (for example, but not limited to, user/respondent log in issues, respondent upload issues, survey functioning issues, data upload issues, etc.). For any additional TA requested by the user, standard hourly rates apply, email partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com for more information.

Q: If we wanted specific technical support from the Visible Network Labs team can we pay for those expert services?

A: Yes, email partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com to get a quote for specific TA services.

Technical Support Services include: Hourly TA-Implementing PARTNER, Hourly TA-Quality Improvement, 1.5 hour Online Webinar for your group, In-Person ½ Day Training, In-Person Full Day Training, Administering the PARTNER survey. If you have other specific needs please email the PARTNER team at partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com to discuss.

Q: Can we hire the Visible Network Labs team to do our evaluation for us?

A: Yes, you can hire the Visible Network Labs team to implement PARTNER in your Community (start to finish). Please email partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com to for more information on scoping out the project and related work.

Q: Where can I find Visible Networks Lab’s policies around user agreements, privacy, and security?

A: Yes, you can find our End User License Agreement here, our privacy policy here and our security policy here.

Q: We paid to attend an in-person training, but can no longer attend, can I get a refund?

A: If you cancel your registration at least three weeks before the event, $50 will be deducted from your refund amount to cover processing fees. If you cancel your registration within three weeks of the event, $150 will be deducted from your refund amount to cover administrative and deposit costs. You must submit your cancellation notice via email to learning@visiblenetworklabs.com.

Q: We paid to attend an in-person training, but can no longer attend, can I transfer my registration to someone else?

A: Yes, you can transfer your registration to someone else. Send a registration transfer notice via email to learning@visiblenetworklabs.com.

PARTNER Platform

Q: Is there a way to change the manager of the account?

A: Yes, you can change the manager information under Update Profile within Project Manager. You will not be able to change the email associated with that account here only the information within the profile. If you need to close your account and transfer surveys or data into another account to another please email partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com.  

Q: How can I change or reset my password?

A:  You can change the password under Account Settings within Project Manager. You can also reset your password here or email us at partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com and we can reset the password for you.

Q: How can I set my PIN for the PCN App?

A:  You can add the PIN for the PCN App under Account Settings within Project Manager.

Q: I have tried logging in, but my password is not accepted, what can I do?

A: Make sure that you have verified your email address by confirming the email sent to you after you registered on the platform. If you cannot find that email or have verified the email and it still will not let you log in email us at  partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com. Also try resetting password your here.

Q: During this preliminary study phase we do not plan to utilize the robust capabilities of the platform. Is this permissible and do you foresee any issues with this approach? 

A: You should feel free to use whatever portion of PARTNER that will help you in your project. When people have used the PARTNER Default Survey for research, or parts of it, we only ask that you cite PARTNER in anything you present or publish and/or explicitly mention that you used parts of the PARTNER survey in your manuscript (this contributes to the validation of the tool and allows our funders to understand how people are using it).

Q: How do I cite the PARTNER Platform?

A: Visible Network Labs. PARTNER (Program to Analyze, Record, and Track Networks to Enhance Relationships). ©Visible Network Labs 2018, accessed at https://www.visiblenetworklabs.com/partnertool/.

Q: Is there a list of publications authored by the Visible Network Labs team?

A: Under publications there list of all the peer-reviewed publications authored by the Visible Network Labs team.

Q: Is the PARTNER Platform compatible with all web browsers?

A: The PARTNER Platform is compatible with most web browsers including: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge. The PARTNER Platform is NOT compatible with Internet Explorer or Mozilla. Please email partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com for options for the respondents who cannot access a compatible browser.

Q: Do you have any resources I can share with my committee to demonstrate PARTNER and what the tool can do?

A: On the PARTNER website under the “Resources” tab you will find a PARTNER tool brief which is a 2-page document on the Survey Builder. You can also run the simulation (also found under “Resources”) or have them play around with the Sandbox Data.

Q: Do you provide demos on the use of PARTNER?

A: Yes we offer LIVE demos and in person trainings frequently and the schedule of those is posted on the website, Facebook page, Twitter page, and LinkedIn page. You can request a private demonstration either online or in person for your team just email us at partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com.

Q: Can I use PARTNER if we are just forming as a network?

A: Yes, this is a great time to use PARTNER to help with strategizing. You can use your data as a benchmark for any future evaluation. You do not have to be a formal network to use PARTNER.

 Q: Can PARTNER be used for other domains outside of Public Health or is PARTNER public health specific?

A: No, PARTNER is not public health specific. It can be used in any context. The default PARTNER survey questions work best for community collaboratives, but some people also use it to collect information on individual connections. If you have specific questions if PARTNER is the right fit email mailto:partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com

Q: Can PARTNER be used to evaluate ego centric networks?

A: The Survey Builder measures whole networks and the PCN App measures ego centric networks.

Q: Can I use PARTNER to evaluate relationships within my organization?

A: Yes. There might be a few things that are different for using PARTNER within an organization that might make some of the survey questions different, and we can help you think that through. Just send us an email at partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com.

Q: Is PARTNER used only by individual coalition/networks or can it be used on a national level to analyze the data from multiple networks?

A: Yes, you can use PARTNER with one network or with multiple networks across a region, country, or world. We have experience analyzing data across multiple networks for different projects we have worked on. If you are going to be analyzing multiple networks email us at partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com so we can talk about different templates available for purchase to analyze across sites.

Q: What is the estimated number of hours that will be required by my team to use PARTNER start to finish for an evaluation project?

A: Different agencies have a wide variety of experiences in terms of how much time it takes. We have some PARTNER users who have a very good understanding of who is in their network and what topics they want to evaluate, others have more thinking and planning to do before they can get started on the Platform. These aspects could have a big impact on how much time would be involved. The actual PARTNER Survey Builder data collection and Data Dashboards are designed to be quick and simple for the user. Once the preparation (e.g. identifying respondents and customizing questions) is complete, the next few steps should take less than an hour to complete. The planning and preparation are the most time consuming pieces. We typically open surveys for a period of 2 weeks, then follow that up with a one week extension. Once you have data collected, you can immediately analyze it and visualize it in the dashboards (included in all subscriptions*)


*You will need at least a Basic subscription package to view your date in the Data Dashboards. 

PARTNER Survey Builder

Q: How do I rename my survey?

A: You can change the name of your survey at any time. There is a button “Rename Network” on the Survey Builder Homepage to the right of the current survey name.

Q: Who should I include in the respondent Information Worksheet?

A: The organizations, agencies, departments, programs, and initiatives you choose to include as you bound your network will be the entities that will show up in the network maps representing the system in your community or state, and the specific contacts at each organization will be the ones who are responding to the survey answering on behalf of their organization. You will want to include specific contacts who have “sat at the table” and can answer the survey which could include questions around the network itself, as well as questions about the specific partnerships their organization maintains with other organizations in the network. There may be some organizations for whom you do not already have an established contact possessing the high-level perspective needed to participate in the survey on behalf of their organization. Should cases like this arise, seek input from your partners on the best-suited individual from those organizations to participate. If there is no contact, you don’t have to send the survey to everyone. You can assign your name and email address to those organizations without a specific contact.

Q: Do I have to fill out all the columns in the Respondent Information Worksheet?

A: At a minimum, you will need to include at least a long org name, short org name, group, username, last name, first name, email and password (Columns A-G & Column O). Address, city, state/region, country, zip/postal code, phone, organization sector, and primary org function (Columns H-N) are not required to send a survey but will be required to access certain functionality coming soon in our Dashboards. For example, GIS mapping is a feature coming soon and that requires an address from each organization.

Q: Can I list more than one representative from the same organization or list the organization multiple times in the respondent list?

A: If multiple people from an organization are members of the network, choose one person who will best represent that organization to include as the survey respondent. DO NOT duplicate organization names (long names or short names). If you have more than one contact within the same organization or more than one person from the same entity, you will need to distinguish their organization name so that respondents to the survey will can make a distinction between them on a list. An option is to list an organization and include different programs/departments within the organization as different entries.

Think about if the multiple contacts represent the organization the SAME way at the table to other network partners or if they represent the organization in UNIQUE ways at the table. It is also important to note that each organization listed becomes its own node in the network maps. For example, Hospital A has two contacts at the table, one represents Emergency Services and one represents Administration. Those contacts are representing the Hospital in unique ways and should show up as separate nodes for Hospital A because network partners connect to them differently. If the contacts are representing the Hospital in the same way at the table, then the hospital should only be one node in the network maps because partners connect to those contacts the same.

The short name should be as concise as possible to make the network graph legible (approximately 2-5 characters). Should it better serve your purposes, you may want to discretely code these short names in order to maintain anonymity of the respondents in the network maps. Alternatively, you may prefer to utilize established and well-known acronyms for the various organizations, so they may be easily recognizable in the map visuals included in your report.  

Tip: Do not include multiple people from the same organization, but rather have them work together to answer the survey. If you do include multiple contacts from the same organization, you will need to add a department or a title at the end of the organization name and short name because the PARTNER Tool will not accept redundant names (e.g., Child Learning Center-Director (Short name- CLC:D) and Child Learning Center: Teacher (CLC:T)).

Q: Why do I need to assign a group to each respondent?

A: You need to fill in a group for each respondent even if it is the same grouping for each. The system needs to know how to define the organizations in the network visualizations. You can have up to 13 groups maximum, used to identify a “characteristic” or “attribute” for each organization/individual. The group type should be chosen based on what makes sense to each network. For example, you can define groups based on type of agency (e.g. health care, faith based, business), a workgroup or type of role in the network (e.g. outreach committee, data committee), or even by another characteristic like size of budget (e.g. low, medium, high) or region served. To define groups, decide on group categories and then type the group type name for each organization/individual in the “Group” column in the respondent information worksheet.

Q: Do we assign the username and password for each respondent? How long do passwords have to be? Can we give the same password for everyone in our network?

A: Usernames and passwords are created by the manager and entered into the respondent information worksheet. The respondent usernames must be unique identifiers (there are over 3,500 respondents and/or managers in the system) so we suggest managers be creative when assigning user names. You can use the acronym for the network or project, followed by a number. We also recommend that managers use the same password for their whole respondent list, although you can select different passwords for each. That way if any of your respondents email you with questions related to their username and password it is easily available. Passwords must be at least 6 characters long. Respondents have the option of changing their passwords.

Q: Is there a minimum number of respondents needed to effectively use the instrument? Are there a maximum number of respondents that can be included?

A: While there is no minimum number of respondents, for the study to be considered a network analysis over a dyad analysis is you have to have at least 3 members. Small networks (3-5 organizations) could be too few to do the analysis in terms of learning things that the group doesn’t already know, but the bigger concern is that you are unlikely to see any variance in the relationships. That said, it might be worth it to administer the survey and see if you do see any differences or learn something new.

While there is not necessarily a limit on the number of respondents you include, having a large list can create burden on your respondents when they answer relational questions, because they will have to answer each of those questions for every organization they choose in the Network Member Selection question. We have had managers upload lists of up to 200 respondents, but we have not had much experience collecting data via a survey with networks larger than that. We don’t recommend much more than 100 respondents or things become unmanageable in the analysis.

Q: Can I use snowball sampling with the PARTNER tool?

A: No, you cannot use snowball sampling or other name generator surveys with PARTNER Survey Builder or PCN App. PARTNER’s Survey Builder and PCN App only use a bounded list. This requires that you have a list of the people you want to survey before you collect data. You can include an open-ended question at the end of your survey that asks people to list partners that were missing in the survey, but that would not allow you to ask all the relational questions about those added partners. Adding this type of question can inform which partners were missing from your survey, should you decide to do it again in the future. When/if you go to re-administer the survey be sure to include those that were named by respondents and analyze how the network has grown over that time.

Q: Can I upload more respondents after I’ve loaded my initial list?

A: Yes you can add respondents at any time. We recommend add the new respondents to a clean, unused Respondent Information Worksheet. You can also add respondents online under Step 1: Enter Respondent (Network Members) Information; Edit Respondent Information. Then click Add Respondent.

*Note: Before you send out your survey invitations make sure that you have all respondents uploaded.

Q: If we have defined our bounded network, but are not yet sure of the contacts per organization, can we just preload the organizations in and then periodically add the respondents in? And, can we send the survey on a staggered basis?

A: We recommend doing it all at once (uploading a completed list and then sending out) just because sometimes doing multiple edits can create issues. And, methodologically it is not ok to send the invite email staggered, unless you have the full list of organizations already in it. You just want to be sure that you give everyone the opportunity to answer all questions about everyone. To be sure it works as it should, we recommend holding off sending survey invites until you have a complete respondent list loaded online.

Q: Why can’t I upload my Respondent Information Worksheet?

A: You must click the export to PARTNER button within the template which will save the file in the correct format to load into the system.

Q: Q: When I upload my respondent list, I get the following error message: “Validation failed: orgs already exist”, what does that mean?

A: This means that you are trying to upload respondents with the same organization name or the same short name. The system will not accept redundant organization or short names. You will need to modify your respondent list so that you are either using one contact per organization or you are differentiating by program/department/name, etc in the organization name and short name.

Q: When I upload my respondent list, I get the following error message: “Validation failed: usernames already exist”, what does that mean?

A: This means that you are trying to upload respondents that have a username used by another user in the database. You will need to modify your respondent list to fix the usernames for the organizations that did not load.

Q: Our respondent list changed and there are individuals I do not want to send the survey to. Can I delete them after they have been uploaded? Can I delete them after the survey invite has gone out?

A: Yes, you can delete a respondent at any point once they have been created. Just remember, if you delete an organization that has data associated with it, you will also be deleting that data completely from our database.

Q: Can I add new organizations after I send the survey to the network members?

A: We recommend not adding organizations after you have sent the survey invitation to network members and some have started to respond. You just want to be sure that you give everyone the opportunity to answer all questions about everyone. If you need to add an organization, you can add them, send their invite and reach out to those who have submitted their survey to inform them of the new addition(s). You would need those respondents to log back in and complete any relational questions about the additional organization(s) if they partner with them.

*Note: Be sure your respondent list is complete and accurate before you send out the survey to network members to avoid any issues.

Q: I sent out my invites to take the survey and noticed that I had the wrong email address for some of the participants, I updated the information, but how can I send out the survey to them at the new email address?

A: Unfortunately, once the invites have been released there is no way to re-create a new one. There are three options to get the user the information they need to take they survey: 1) We recommend you CC yourself on all emails going out so you can easily forward any survey emails to respondents. 2) You can send this individual the same text you used in your invitation from your own personal email account and you can provide them with their username, password, and organization they are representing in the survey. If you would like to send them a personalized link (which has their username and password filled in) you will need to swap %user with the username and %pw with the password in this link: http://partnertool.net/survey/new?user=%user&pw=%pw 3) You can send this respondent a “reminder” email with the text you used in your invitation and include this syntax: %login_url for a link that automatically logs respondents into the survey.

Q: Do I have to send all my emails from the PARTNER Tool?

A: No. You can send emails to your respondents from your own email by doing a mail merge. Microsoft word along with Outlook and other programs have mail merge features. Using this function, you can send everyone an email with this link to login http://partnertool.net/survey/new?user=%user&pw=%pw and just merge in the username and password fields in the mail merge template. Feel free to ask for help to do this from the Visible Network Labs team at partnertool@visiblenetworklabs.com.

Q: Is there a way to see who has not responded to the survey? Can I send reminder emails to each respondent or can I only send it to only those who haven’t responded?

A: Yes, you can see who has not responded under %Check Response Rate under “Step 2: Modify Survey”. Here you can see who has submitted their survey and what percent of the survey they completed. You can also find this information under “Step 3: Send E-Mails to Respondents”, click Send Emails and then click Reminder Email. Here you can also see the status and completion rate of each respondent’s survey. In the Select column you can check any person you want to send the reminder to, but there will not be an option to include respondents who have already submitted their surveys.

The reminder email will not give the respondents their password like the invite did, but there is a way you can include the link for respondents by adding %login_url to your reminder message.

Q: How many reminder emails should I send?

A: The Dillman method1 suggests that you can send email reminders up to six times. We recommend that if you know your respondents to use your best judgment. A phone call reminder can also be an effective way to notify some respondents. The best way to encourage people to respond is to emphasize how important their input is to the final evaluation of the network. Sometimes offering an incentive will help encourage participation (does not always have to be a monetary incentive). For example, we will often develop a one page summary of the data we collect to let users know how their answers were analyzed and used in practice. We use the following email schedule:

1 Hoddinott, Susan N. and Martin J. Bass. (1986). The Dillman total design survey method. Can Fam Physician, 32: 2366–2368.

Q: I had people reply to the reminder email that they did not receive the original email. Did something happen to their invite?

A: Most likely their organization has a firewall and the invite message went in to their SPAM or Junk Mail folder. You can have them look for the email there or you can send them their username and password in an email from your personal/work account.  There is no way to avoid or know if the invite email will go to someone’s SPAM folder. You can send an introduction email to respondents from outside the system to give them the heads up that the invite will be on the way in a couple days and for them to look in their SPAM folders if it does not show up in their inbox. We also recommend you CC yourself on all emails you send from the system so you can easily forward those messages on respondents who did not get the email.

Q: Are respondents able to take a break from the survey and sign-in again to pick up where they left off? Or, if there are multiple agencies in the collaborative that a respondent answers about, could the person break it up and answer in more than one session?

A: Yes, respondents can stop at any point and go back in to finish later. They just need to log in again with their credentials and they can skip ahead to the section they left off.

Q: How do I transfer a survey from one of my projects to another one of my projects?

A: Under Step 2: Modify Survey, simply select the name of the survey you want to use in the dropdown under Select Survey to Use. There you can select which survey you would like to copy into this project.

Q: Where can I find information on how the PARTNER default survey questions were developed?

A: Under publications there list of all the peer-reviewed publications authored by the Visible Network Labs team. Specially, The Core Dimensions of Connectivity in Public Health Collaboratives and Data-Driven Management Strategies in Public

Health Collaboratives are useful articles to highlight information on the PARTNER default survey questions. There are also other useful articles on networks here.

Q: Is the PARTNER default survey modifiable?

A: Yes, you can completely modify the PARTNER default survey or create a survey from scratch. If you modify the PARTNER default survey beyond text changes to questions or response options, the data export will no longer be able to load into the PARTNER Legacy Tool. If you want to use the legacy tool in Excel, you cannot delete any question before Q19 and can only modify the question/response text for questions.

Q: How can I delete a question in my survey?

A: You can delete a question in the survey by clicking on the little trash can icon on the bottom right within the question box located next to the copy question icon.

Q: How can I move a question in my survey?

A: You can move a question in the survey by clicking and holding the six dots located in the middle top of the question box.

Q: How can I copy a question in my survey?

A: You can copy a question in the survey by clicking on the little copy icon on the bottom right within the question box located next to the trash can icon.

Q: How can we close a survey once we have gathered our responses?

A: The survey never officially closes, and you can download your data and or analyze it in the Data Dashboards at any point after you have launched your survey. We do recommend that you give respondents a deadline so they’ll complete it in time, if you’d like to tell them it will close by a certain date that is okay.

Q: Some of my respondents do not have access to a computer; can I issue them a paper survey and then fill in their responses online?

A: Yes, you can administer your survey in a paper format and then log in as that respondent and fill in their responses online. Go to the Print Friendly View when you are in the survey customizer window. Print that survey and send to your respondents.

Q: What type of response rate do I need for an accurate reflection of my network?

A: The higher the response rate the better. It is important to have as many respondents as possible, particularly in evaluating a network. However, at times it is just not possible to get a 100% response rate so there are a few things you can keep in mind. Managers rarely get 100% response rate, but the closer you can get to that, the better. If you get at least 60% response rate you can feel good about it and 80% or more is really the best. What we’ve seen in the literature is that 75% or higher is really the best but sometimes that’s not realistic for managers.

If we consider each person as providing accurate information, then you might assume that even those that did not respond would have reported similar relationships, so there is a chance that you get a pretty complete picture even without everyone’s responses. Also, keep in mind that whatever feedback you get is more than they had before. Ultimately, this can be a problem with all survey research and a particular problem with social network surveys and therefore response rate should be reported (perhaps as a strength or a limitation) when reporting the results. We recommend reporting initial findings back to your network at various intervals as a method to encourage them to participate.

Q: I can’t get the legacy analysis tool to work, is there something wrong with the version I have?

A: Try enabling the macros in the analysis tool excel file. There should be an “Options” button that automatically appears, click the button and choose “Enable Macros”. Also be sure that you are trying to upload data from a modified PARTNER default survey, create your own surveys will not load into the legacy PARTNER Tool.

Q: Now I have data, what do I do next?

A: To begin analyzing your data go to the Data Dashboards and begin visualizing your data. Within the Data Dashboard, select the question in the dropdown under “Pick which question you want to visualize/analyze”. Single choice and multiple choice questions will show up as either a bar, column, or pie chart. Open-ended questions show up in a table. Relational questions show up as network maps. You can layer on the responses from single and multiple choice questions on top of a network map.

PARTNER network data are meant to be used as a Quality Improvement process, focused on strategic planning (to steer decision-making). To do this you will need to identify your goals (plan), implement your collaborative activities (do), gather PARTNER data (study), and develop action steps to get you from where you “are” to where your goals indicate you “should be” (act). For further resources, see this article on Data Driven Management Strategies (Varda, 2011).

Q: How do I save a visualization in the Data Dashboards?

A: Once you have visualized a data point, click on the +  sign that visualization will be added to the purple bar below the dashboard screen. You can move items from this saved area into the Report Builder area to the right.  

Q: Can I use the PARTNER Survey Builder/PCN App more than once?

A: Yes, you can use the PARTNER Survey Builder or the PCN App to collect data as many times as you desire. Simply wait for the new survey/additional respondents to be added to your account at the start of each new month of your subscription. If you need to add additional surveys/respondents into your account before the new month, you can purchase those al a cart.  

Q: Is completed survey data available for export so I can import into other tools like; SPSS, UCINet, or GEPHI?

A: Yes you can turn the dyad data into an edgelist and then import it into UCINET, GEPHI or other tools. We have also used PARTNER data in SPSS.