As a research team gains mastery over conducting and presenting research, the rest of the organization naturally develops a wider appetite and demand for research. The next challenges then are scaling research to satiate that demand and ensuring that insights are widely accessible afterward, the central components of research operations.
While data and insights are “expiring” at an accelerating rate due to consumer behavior change, there’s still significant value in revisiting insights over time and developing institutional knowledge. They help both to provide context into how trends arrived at the present situation (also called “getting smart quickly”) and for business stakeholders to collaborate across the organization with teams that are exploring similar topics.
Insight categorization and management
The research team’s job isn’t done once they’ve conducted and presented research and informed key decisions. The study needs to be catalogued alongside other studies in a research and insights repository.
- What does a dire situation look like? A common sentiment amongst researchers will be: “my data is all over the place in different formats.” Redundant research is often conducted because of a lack of a centralized and digestible insight repository. Only a handful of people are aware of any of the research going on in the organization, and the information primarily lives within their heads. Institutional knowledge rarely accumulates.
- What are key indicators that there’s room for improvement? The research team uses generic tooling like a spreadsheet or wiki as a central repository for research studies.
- What does excellence look like? A centralized repository exists for research conducted throughout the organization. Customer interviews are transcribed and queryable. Studies and insights are tagged, organized, and easily discoverable by relevant stakeholders. Institutional knowledge is documented and accumulates.
Insight access and reuse
It’s critical to make studies accessible “on-demand” to the right stakeholders who may have similar inquiries.
- What does a dire situation look like? There may be a central repository, but few stakeholders visit or can navigate it. It feels like crickets are chirping.
- What are key indicators that there’s room for improvement? While some “power users” frequently visit the repository, the research team lacks sharing or analytics capabilities to drive more adoption.
- What does excellence look like? Research is accessible via a research repository to relevant stakeholders with appropriate permissions. Each research study has potential upside via discovery by new stakeholders on an ongoing basis.
Given the above section, there is a multiplier effect in terms of value when data and insights are made more broadly accessible for reuse across the organization. On the other end of the spectrum, research studies that have no impact on decisions effectively have a value of zero. ROI and budgets are functions of these factors.
In many ways, budgeting is the root cause of problems and prerequisite for success in research. Of course organizations must keep a handle on finances and teams should demonstrate the ROI of spending, but there are varying degrees of productivity for different approaches.
- What does a dire situation look like? Budgeting is done on a per study rather than persistent basis. The business case for each study is bespoke and generated from scratch. The rudimentary parts of data-driven decision-making, like the value of customer feedback, need to be defended.
- What are key indicators that there’s room for improvement? The organization budgets for one to two subscriptions to mission critical tools, but it’s a slog to introduce new capabilities into the organization.
- What does excellence look like? There is executive and organizational alignment on the value of data-driven decision-making, and budgeting is largely a construct of how and when to integrate research into decision-making. Research teams have significant leeway to use their judgment based on a demonstrated and proven track record.
Given the external factors outlined throughout this report, it’s fair to say that research teams and their research are generally getting more valuable or less valuable. Stasis isn’t an option any longer – treading water is essentially moving backwards.
- What does a dire situation look like? Budgets, research volume, research impact, and other factors go unchanged (or decrease) year over year. The organization still lacks a widespread acknowledgement or understanding of the value of research.
- What are key indicators that there’s room for improvement? There is an appreciation for the ROI for specific types of research, like focus groups and usability studies, but limited appreciation for emergent capabilities.
- What does excellence look like? As the ROI of research is demonstrated and reinforced, there are regularly initiatives to continue improving. Research studies are becoming more efficient to conduct, research is more widely consumed and used to inform decision-making, and the organization is steadily investing more and seeing tangible results.
Prioritizing the research queue
Budgeting and a culture of continuous improvement manifest in how research teams prioritize inquiries and create visibility for their priorities.
- What does a dire situation look like? Research is conducted on a first in first out cadence or on a relatively arbitrary basis. There’s either a neverending queue or very little queue at all because business stakeholders go elsewhere (or default to making decisions based on opinions).
- What are key indicators that there’s room for improvement? The research team has great rapport with a few stakeholders and teams across the organization, and has a system for prioritizing their requests and creating visibility into a queue.
- What does excellence look like? The research queue is prioritized based on relatively objective metrics related to urgency and impact. There is widespread visibility and alignment on priorities. The volume of research grows and the queue is managed effectively with business stakeholders eager but generally content with pacing.
How can you improve research in your organization?
Take the Self-Assessment Quiz: Improving Your Research Operations
Our self-guided quiz is designed to help you identify areas to improve the research operations of your organization. At the end, you’ll receive a score and guided recommendations to improve the maturity of your research operations.