Five Critical Questions You Should Ask Your 360 Feedback Company

Key questions to ask any 360-degree feedback technology vendor, why they are important, and our responses to each

Articles » Five Critical Questions You Should Ask Your 360 Feedback Company

In our more than ten years of providing an online 360-degree feedback platform to nearly 4,000 companies, we've been asked a lot of questions by our prospective customers. Many questions are common; everyone asks about pricing, our company history and whether or not they can display their logo on reports.

To our surprise, though, most inquirers do not ask the five critical questions below. The answers to these questions can provide you a great deal of insight into how a potential partner will perform in the near-term and down the road.

1. Do you encrypt my company's data at-rest?

Almost all vendors in the 360 feedback industry use "in-transit" encryption to protect information as it flows in to and out of their Web application. However, this is only a small part of the data security equation. Another highly important and less-discussed consideration is whether a vendor employs "at-rest" encryption. At-rest encryption technologies protect your data from unauthorized access once it's stored in a database. It's very important and surprising that many companies in our industry don't bother with it. Additionally, not all at-rest technologies are the same. While some vendors claim at-rest encryption capabilities, they are probably only using freeware encryption tools that are convenient and low-cost, but not as secure as they could be.

This is not an area where we believe in compromise. EchoSpan has invested heavily in top-tier encryption technologies to protect client data. We partner with Vormetric, the leading provider of hardware-based, at-rest encryption technologies to ensure our client's data is protected. This is the same technology used by banks and the military in securing highly sensitive data. It's a more expensive approach, but one that provides our clients the highest level of data protection.

Additionally, we only host our Web-based services on hardware that we own. We do not use "cloud-based" or shared servers. This means that no other companies use the hardware that we employ to deliver our services to our customers. This gives us greater control over the security that we provide.

2. Can I use my own review content?

Off-the-shelf reviews are a convenient way to get started with a feedback program, but what happens when you want to customize the questions or competencies in a review to better suit your needs? If you are just getting started with 360-degree feedback, you may not foresee the need to customize your review content in the future. But, as you program develops or expands further into your organization, the need to adapt review competencies and items will inevitably come up. Many tools do not permit the use of custom review content (competencies, items and rating scales) without additional cost.

This is another area where we are different. The EchoSpan tool allows clients to use their own review content, supplement their program with our professionally-written library of competencies and behaviors, or do a mixture of both. If you choose to move your existing review content into the EchoSpan tool, all it takes is a simple copy/paste to get your content setup. Furthermore, administrators can create a custom library in the tool so accessing your existing competencies and items for future reviews is effortless. All of these capabilities are standard in all editions of our tool.

3. How many languages do you support?

As the importance of talent management and developmental feedback increases, so does the need to deliver solutions in multiple languages across the globe. Even if your current requirements are English-only, be sure a vendor can support multiple languages for your future needs. As your program grows internationally, you can avoid a costly and time consuming vendor change by making sure up-front that your vendor supports the languages in which you do business-and can do so with your own translated review content.

The EchoSpan 360 feedback tool delivers reviews and reports in more than 60 languages and an unlimited number of dialects. Your review content, rating scale, and review instructions are all translatable with a few clicks. Reviews can be delivered in multiple languages simultaneously, making it easy to administer projects to an international audience. Your users simply select their preferred language from a drop-down menu when they login and the tool, along with your custom review content, is translated instantly. Reports can also be customized with translated content to fit your user's language needs.

4. Are the reports customizable?

Sure, that sample report might look great, but what happens when you want to remove a page? Or add a paragraph of text? Or change a font? With many vendors, this means customization costs and project delays.

Flexibility in reporting might not seem critical up-front. However, we've found that our customers' reporting needs evolve over time and as projects progress. For example, you may find that you need an abbreviated version of your report for executive summaries, or want to create a report that highlights differences between this year's reviews and last year's.

Realizing that reporting needs vary by client and situation, we designed our reporting system to be easily adaptable. The EchoSpan tool allows you to create an unlimited number of personalized report templates, generate reports on-demand or in batches and distribute them electronically to recipients in your organization. With dozens of settings and options, report templates can be customized so that the content and appearance are unique to your business. You can even edit details like report headers, font size, and graph colors in your reports.

5. Who owns the data?

Believe it or not, the ratings your employees enter into other vendor's feedback reviews might not be owned by your company. As surprising as it may seem, many vendors in our industry intermingle and aggregate their customers' data for writing studies or creating industry benchmarks, which are then sold to other customers.

We do not agree with this approach. Any data entered into the EchoSpan system is owned by the company whose employees enter it, period. Our job is to protect that data and make it accessible only to the company that owns it. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of any 360 provider to make sure your data is offered the same protection.

Selecting a 360 vendor is an investment and finding one whose platform is highly secure, customizable, and easy to use is a huge part of your program's success. We hope that you carefully consider these five questions as you begin your 360 process and welcome additional questions about our tool at

Last updated: Monday, August 15, 2016
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