What are critical dates? (Opening, Closing, Results and Buffer)

There is mention of critical dates with survey opening dates, closing dates, buffer periods(?) and results dates. I am not sure what all this means. Can you brief explain?

When benchmarking it is best to have clearly defined dates and periods set down in advance so members have clarity on expectations. Even so you need to cater for problems. It is sort of like having a university assignment due, everyone knows the due date but still seem to leave it until the last minute. Even with defined due dates some will ask for an extension. Benchmarking is similar. Make it clear when the survey opens so you can start promoting well in advance, when it closes so a mental time frame is created and when the results are expected. The only confusing part here is the ‘buffer period’ – this is like the assignment extension that we mentioned above. You advertise a closing date knowing full well that many of your members will participate at the last minute and a percentage will ask for an extension.  The easiest way is to factor in an extension period (buffer period) before you start so that it does not impact on the ‘expectation’ date for posting of results on the Private Portal. This way we keep everyone happy. We strongly advise that members are not advised of the ‘buffer period’ for obvious reasons.