Activity sampling

Activity sampling

The four key components of Strategy Analysis are principles, practices, techniques, and skills. They play an essential role in identifying and validating the organization’s strategic needs, defining suitable solution approach(es) and solution(s), and planning, monitoring, and engaging stakeholders to achieve the organization’s strategic objectives. Techniques describe a step-by-step approach to conducting Strategic Analysis activities.

Want to determine utilization and staffing levels, balance work content, and observe activities with a view to improvement? Here is a Strategy Analysis technique to achieve that. This blog will look at a technique called Activity Sampling with a worked-out example.

Activity sampling as a business analysis technique has been used since the early 1900s. It was first developed by Frederick Taylor, an American engineer, and management consultant, who used it to measure the efficiency of workers in factories. He used a stopwatch to measure the time it took for workers to complete certain tasks and then used this data to analyze the efficiency of the workers. In the 1950s, activity sampling was further developed by Harvard Business School professor George Stigler. He used it to measure the efficiency of salespeople in retail stores. He observed the salespeople and recorded the time it took them to complete certain tasks, such as stocking shelves or helping customers. He then used this data to analyze the efficiency of the salespeople. Activity sampling has since been used in a variety of business contexts, such as analyzing the efficiency of customer service representatives, measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, and evaluating the performance of employees. It is a valuable tool for businesses to measure and analyze the efficiency of their operations.


Activity sampling is a quantitative form of observation and is typically used to know how people divide their work time among various activities. For example, how much time is spent on following-up payments each day? How much on reconciling payments? How much on solving complaints?


  1. Activity sampling typically requires creating a special-purpose record, such as a timesheet. An activity-sampling exercise is carried out in five steps:
  2. Identify the activities to be recorded. For example, include a ‘Not working’ activity, which covers lunchtime and other breaks from work. Also include a ‘Not related’ activity, such as first aid or health and safety officer duties.
  3. Decide on the frequency and timings of recording data.
  4. Visit the study group at times decided upon and record what each group member is doing. If team members agree, they may record the approximate time at the end of their shifts.
  5. Record the results.
  6. After a set period, analyze the results.

Usage Considerations

Activity-sampling exercises provide quantifiable data about the number of times an activity is carried out per day by the group studied. By analyzing that figure against other data, such as the total amount of time available, we can calculate the total length of time spent on various activities. Use this information when developing business cases and evaluating proposed solutions. Also, it can ask other questions, such as whether the average time spent is reasonable for a task or whether it indicates a problem somewhere else in the process.


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Advantages of activity sampling as a strategy analysis technique

  1. Cost-Effective: Activity sampling is a cost-effective technique for business analysis as it requires minimal resources and time.
  2. Flexible: Activity sampling is a flexible technique as it can be used to analyze any type of business activity.
  3. Accurate: Activity sampling is an accurate technique as it provides detailed information about the activities being sampled.
  4. Easy to Implement: Activity sampling is easy to implement as it requires minimal resources and time.
  5. Easy to Analyze: Activity sampling is easy to analyze as it provides detailed information about the activities being sampled.
  6. Easy to Interpret: Activity sampling is easy to interpret as it provides detailed information about the activities being sampled.

Weaknesses of activity sampling as a strategy analysis technique

  1. Time-consuming: Activity sampling requires significant time to collect and analyze data. This can be a major drawback for businesses that need to make decisions quickly.
  2. Subjective: Activity sampling relies heavily on the observer’s interpretation of the data. This can lead to inaccurate results if the observer is not experienced or trained in the technique.
  3. Limited scope: Activity sampling only provides a snapshot of the observed activities. It does not provide a comprehensive view of the entire process or system.
  4. Costly: Activity sampling can be expensive to implement, as it requires the use of specialized equipment and personnel.

Relationship of activity sampling with other strategy analysis techniques

Activity sampling is a strategy analysis technique that is closely related to other techniques such as process mapping, value stream mapping, and process flow analysis. Activity sampling is used to identify and analyze the activities that are taking place in a process or system. It can be used to identify areas of inefficiency, bottlenecks, and other problems that can be addressed to improve the overall performance of the process or system. Activity sampling can also be used to identify areas of potential improvement and to develop strategies for improving the process or system. By combining activity sampling with other strategy analysis techniques, organizations can gain a better understanding of their processes and systems and develop more effective strategies for improving them.

Activity sampling in business analysis is likely to become increasingly important in the future as businesses strive to gain more insight into their operations. As technology advances, businesses will be able to collect more data and use it better to understand their customers, processes, and operations. Activity sampling will be used to identify areas of improvement, identify trends, and develop strategies to improve efficiency and profitability. Additionally, activity sampling can be used to identify areas of risk and develop strategies to mitigate those risks. As businesses become more data-driven, activity sampling will become an essential tool for business analysis.

About Adaptive US

This blog is written by Adaptive US. It is among the world’s Most Trusted IIBA Business Analyst Training and Certifications organization. We have helped 1500+ students complete IIBA certifications. We are one the leading IIBA certifications training providers in the last 3 years in a row, 2020, 2021, and 2022. Adaptive US provides success guaranteed CBAP, CCBA, ECBA, BA Bootcamp, AAC, CBDA, CCA, CPOA online, virtual and on-premise training, question banks, study guides, simulators, flashcards, audio-books, digital learning packs and many more across the globe. For more Information, kindly visit our website:

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