How to Build Data Collection Instruments

Have you ever longed for an easier way to create audits and assessments? What if you could build your own data collection tools, disseminate them to your constituents, and track activity and progress through a flexible, highly configurable platform? What if you could “walk the talk” when it comes to continuous quality improvement, using a software solution to create meaningful surveys, self-assessments, audits, and evaluations (and update them as needed)?

Now you can.

Built in collaboration with the accreditation, standards development, and conformity assessment communities, ARMATURE Fabric™ features an Instrument Builder that empowers you to create sophisticated surveys, self-assessments, and audits (we call them Instruments) to collect the critical data you need. We designed Instruments to be highly configurable, so you can plug in your standards and create a wide variety of question types—with no coding required. You can set up branching logic, multi-lingual support, scoring, and so much more.

Here’s a basic 1-2-3 overview:

Step #1: Create a New Instrument

ARMATURE Fabric leverages next-generation technology to create an intuitive experience for all platform users. We’re passionate about making powerful software that’s easy to use, and the Instrument Builder exemplifies our commitment to this tenet. From the setup menu, simply navigate to Instruments to create a new Instrument. You’ll see a screen that looks like this:

armature accreditation management data collection instruments
Fill out these fields to create a new data collection Instrument.

Give your Instrument a name, description, open/close date, and type (self-assessment, assessment, or survey). You can also select options for self-start, private responses, require completion, and scoring. Click Save to move to the next step.

Step #2: Outline Your Instrument Page Structure

Now you can begin setting up the specific Parts (questions) of your Instrument, which are organized into Pages. You can preview your Instrument, and even apply advanced functionality such as branching logic, pre-population, and multiple languages.

ARMATURE accreditation management software instrument builder
Outline your Instrument by adding Parts and organizing them into Pages.

After initial setup of your Page structure, you can begin to build out the components of your Instrument by adding questions, content, and criteria.

Step #3: Build Your Data Collection Instrument

An Instrument is comprised of many Parts. To add Parts to an Instrument, we work with Rows.

To add a new Row to an empty Instrument, or at the bottom of any Page at any time, click ADD ROW.

Any time you add a new Row/Part, you’ll see options for Standard, Question, Content, Existing, and Cancel. The following sections discuss each of these options in greater detail.


We’ll start out of order with adding Content, as it’s the simplest option. Content is typically used for informational purposes. For example, you could create an Introduction Page at the beginning of the Instrument, which would provide background information to the respondent that you’d like them to read prior to beginning to complete responses. When you click on Content, you’ll be taken to a rich text editor, where you can add and format the narrative content, which will be displayed within the Instrument as read-only to the respondent.

ARMATURE accreditation instruments
Input read-only instructions for your respondents.


A Standard row is a criterion-based element, which refers to a specific sub-part of a Standard that you’ve set up in Fabric. After selecting Standard as your element type, the criterion field is type-ahead and will show you a list of Standards elements that match your search text.

Select the standard you want from the type-ahead options.

Once you select the reference criterion, you can add ratings and findings.

ARMATURE accreditation instruments
Add ratings and findings to your data collection Instrument.


There are three categories of questions: Simple, Form, or Table.

A Simple Question is a single question within its own part.

You can choose text input, several formats of choice questions, a question which only allows a number or date/time as input, or a question that only provides a mechanism for the respondent to submit a document attachment.

A Form Question is a grouping of Simple Questions that you want to act as a single unit within the Instrument. For example, an address entry requires multiple inputs (Street 1, Street 2, City, State, etc.) that are typically consumed as a grouping. Form cells are independent pieces and are responsive—meaning they will rearrange automatically depending on the size of the viewer’s display and window.

Sample Form Builder within ARMATURE Fabric.

Like Form questions, Table Questions allow you to group related inputs into a single Instrument part, but they differ in that they behave and display like a classic document table and allow you to perform calculations against the information.

Configure your table question to allow attachments, comments, and more.

Advanced Instrument Building Options

ARMATURE Fabric also comes equipped with advanced options that allow you to set up Instruments to collect the data you need. To learn more about features such as pre-population, multi-lingual support, and branching logic—and to delve deeper into everything introduced above—please contact us to schedule a live demo. We’d love to learn about your current accreditation, audit, or quality management processes and show you how ARMATURE Fabric can support your mission.