The term “research ops” is a relatively new one. Mentioned offhandedly in a tweet in March 2018, it has quickly blossomed into its own discipline, maintaining a prominent place in the world of design and user research. But design and/or user research aren’t really new concepts; user experience (UX) design has existed for nearly as long as humans have been writing down our history. The ancient Chinese philosophy of feng shui, for instance, dates back 6,000 years B.C.E. and pays homage to the idea that “the placement of things” affects human experience.
It’s the same principle espoused by our modern understanding of user experience and the guiding force of (good) design in today’s business world.
Here are a few things you need to know about research ops:
Why We Need It
Today’s successful businesses realize that they need to keep their fingers on the pulse of their users. In order to create profitable products and practices, they have to go beyond market research — the who and what and when — and really focus on user research. Companies have to talk to people about how and why they buy the things they do. It’s a very objective process, depending on real-time observation and discussion. It’s also highly accessible due to today’s hyperconnected world, providing almost limitless opportunities for companies wanting to interface and gain feedback from their users.
Because of this, user research is frequently a lot more complicated to coordinate than traditional market research; companies need support to conduct it, and they need support to maintain the data, along with the insights, that come from it. Research ops was born of the need to manage the massive workload and information garnered by and from design and user research.
What It Provides
Think about any endeavor: a clarity in vision fosters a better chance at success. When companies have cohesive and well-informed policies, as well as teams with employees who feel valued and supported in their work, they are able to do more and achieve more. A research ops team can help a company fortify its research processes so that it can use all of its resources appropriately, needlessly wasting neither time nor money nor much-valued insight.
Research ops provides insurance against neglect by keeping researchers on task. It provides standardized procedures for research design, collection and storage and creates a central data reserve so that all employees can easily access and incorporate research tools, insights and support. In essence, it improves design and user research function so that every employee can make better decisions.
The CFR Difference
Not every company has the resources to create or sustain a research ops team. That’s why it’s important for those companies to choose a research partner that can provide the expertise and the manpower to design research projects capable not only of garnering actionable insights, but that can also track and maintain consistent research operations that address legal, ethical and other procedural concerns, as well as provide the foundation and context for ongoing research efforts.
Our project managers here at Communications for Research (CFR) are skilled in research ops management, helping our clients keep track of every aspect of the research process both now and for the future. Please contact us if you would like to learn how research ops can optimize your own research efforts.