SharePoint Holmes and the Survey Surprise

Survey-Detective_Maxwell_on_his_desk_in_the_movie_Until_DeathMost questions I receive about SharePoint surveys are permission issues (it is not extremely intuitive that you need to give all your audience Contribute permissions) and the error message that tells people you can not enter this survey twice.
But this time the issue was different.

The case

The site owner had created a survey in which each item had to be completed by two people. When the first person had entered their part, they would send the link to their entry to the second person, who was supposed to enter the rest.
However, the second person could not open the link and got an error message.
“Sorry, something went wrong. No item exists at [location]. It may have been deleted or renamed by another user”.
When that second person went to the site and opened the survey, they could see that an item had been entered but when they clicked “Show all responses” they received a message that there were no responses.
Confusion all around!

The investigation

  1. I checked the permissions, of course.
    The second person had Contribute permissions to the survey, so that was OK. Everyone could see and edit all items, which is a bit scary, but as this was a controlled process with a limited audience, that could work.
  2. People could enter multiple responses, so that was also not a limitation that could cause this issue.
  3. I checked the survey itself. It had some branching. I completed the first part of the survey and clicked Save and close. My entry was saved.
  4. I went to the survey and saw the item and could open and edit it.
  5. I looked at the 2nd part of the survey, which had many required responses and that gave me some ideas to test…

As it turns out,

  • You are unable to save a straightforward Survey item (with no branches) if it contains questions where you have to provide an answer. We know that, it is the same as with List items.

    Survey-needsmandatoryfields
    This survey can not be saved when the required fields have not been completed.
  • A survey with branching however, will save answers, even if you have not entered all mandatory fields. You will get a message and the item will be saved as “not complete”.
    Survey-setup
    With the yellow-marked question the branching occurs, and there are 2 questions which require a response after that.
    Survey-page1filled
    This is what the first part of the survey looks like. The first person would “Save and Close”.
    Survey-messageforsaving
    “This website reports the following” – you are learning Dutch as you go along 🙂
    Survey-part1saved
    When you Save and Close,  the item will be stored and be visible.

    Survey-1responsenotcompleted
    If you click on “Show all responses” you will see that the item is “not completed”.
  • People can only see the completed items of someone else. As the item is “not complete” because the second part with mandatory questions is not completed,  second person Mystery Guest can not open my item, even though she can see there is an item and she has all the permissions.
    Survey-MysteryGuestsees1item
    Mystery Guest can see there is an item added…

    Survey-NoresponsesforMysteryGuest
    …but when she clicks “Show all responses” she gets the above message.
  • When I removed the “requiredness” of the answers of the 2nd part, the survey was marked as “complete” upon saving, and then the 2nd person could open and edit the 2nd part of the survey.

The solution

I discussed my findings with the site owner and suggested to make the answers in the second part of the survey no longer mandatory. I showed him how to create views in a survey to help getting the second part completed.

That worked for him. Case closed!

New experience for Surveys!

I also saw the Survey in Modern SharePoint. I appreciate the new consistency with other lists, but I can imagine that people will be lost without that well-known look-and-feel. But then, I expect that Forms will make the Survey obsolete soon, anyway.
I wanted to share a screenshot, but things are not very stable yet and I kept getting errors and the Classic experience. As soon as I have captured it, I will share!

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

Image courtesy of ZaL141TeLq on Wikimedia.

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