When new approaches, jobs, and disciplines are developing every year, it is impossible to ignore the influence that technology has had on society.
One such developing practice in the UX industry is Research Operations or ResearchOps. In order to design products that best meet the needs of the client, businesses have learned how crucial efficient user research is.
In the past, handling user research’s staff, tools, procedures, and operations fell under the responsibility of a UX designer. Nowadays, however, entire teams are devoted to this task.
These components are managed by ResearchOps in order to enhance and streamline user research within a business.
According to a 2022 report, 22% of researchers currently receive operational support from a dedicated Research Operations Manager (or an equivalent).
While this is a good start, it’s not good enough, and that’s the purpose of this article. Here, we will take you through:
- What ResearchOps is and why it is so important today,
- The roles of a ResearchOps manager,
- The components of ResearchOps,
- How to get started with ResearchOps.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
What is ResearchOps?
In order to increase the value and efficacy of research at scale, the term “ResearchOps” refers to the harmonization and management of people, processes, and craft.
It is anything that aids researchers by relieving them of operational duties, be it people, strategy, or software. It might be regarded as ResearchOps if it helps researchers reduce time on data collecting and processing for data analysis.
ResearchOps is a subset of DesignOps that is concentrated on elements related to user-research techniques. It refers to all of the work done to help researchers plan, carry out, and apply high-quality user research.
Why does ResearchOps matter today?
The need for UX and user research is rising as a result of more businesses discovering the benefits of UX due to the profession’s exponential expansion.
This is excellent news because it shows how much more widely acknowledged and needed design is now than it ever was.
However, with very little direction or more bandwidth, it frequently falls to the existing UX research employees to scale research methodologies to meet this rising demand.
While also continuing to organize and lead research sessions, user researchers and research managers must manage the responsibility and task of creating procedures to grow their methods to meet demand.
With specialized roles or at least focused efforts, ResearchOps can give relief by developing and compiling deliberate strategies and tools for administering the operational parts of research, allowing researchers to concentrate on performing studies and utilizing research insights.
Benefits of ResearchOps
With companies focusing on user insights, which is a changing phenomenon, quicker access to reports or research paper outline has become almost mandatory. The emergence of this requirement sheds light on the pressure created on the Research & Development department and the need for operationalization for faster processing.
The following are the main benefits that ResearchOps offers to an organization.
ResearchOps enables various departments to gain access to any research data they require via a centralized operating system or piece of software.
As a result, everyone within the firm has access to everything from a study proposal, the outline of the research paper, status, and analysis, to reports.
Additionally, it facilitates very simple usability, enhancing the quality of the product and altering the company’s entire emphasis and goal.
ResearchOps is accountable for managing many other aspects that influence and have an impact on the efficient functioning of the department, managing budget savings, and implementing an appropriate strategy that has been well-researched and tested.
To ensure that the most time is saved on operational work, ResearchOps encourages the development of a framework or templates like a sample research proposal, process, and repeatability techniques.
It is a huge umbrella made up of a number of parts that effectively cut down on processing time while maximizing efficiency.
Your team will be able to produce timely, nearly dynamic reports that are tailored to the constantly changing needs of your customers, thanks to the automation and workload division provided by ResearchOps. It enables businesses to develop at a breakneck pace and gain an advantage over rivals in the same sector.
Common components of ResearchOps
The ResearchOps framework comes with six common areas of focus:
Let’s break each of these components down.
1. Participant management
This includes selecting volunteers for the study, scheduling them, and giving them incentives. Because it’s usually the most obvious and urgent necessity of overworked research teams, it’s frequently low-hanging fruit.
The following are typical ResearchOps activities and initiatives in participant management:
- Assembling a panel or database of prospective research participants.
- Picking external recruiting platforms after doing some research.
- Selection and authorization of participants.
- Managing participant communication.
- Establishing structures for consistent and fair reward levels.
Any research involving participants must have governance rules. It concerns the ethics, safety, and legality of research. By developing procedures and policies for authorization, data privacy, and asset/information storage, ResearchOps helps governance.
ResearchOps must consistently update an organization’s research privacy policies alongside handling user data responsibly in order to comply with the growing number of data privacy standards and uphold a high degree of ethics.
In order to limit internal access to personally identifiable information (PII), ResearchOps is essential.
The governance duties for ResearchOps include:
- Examining and comprehending how data privacy laws apply to the UX research process.
- Establishing communications and practices that are morally sound.
- Creating and standardizing transparent consent forms for diverse types of data.
- Maintaining and properly discarding PII and study artifacts, such as interview transcripts or audio and video event recordings.
3. Knowledge management
This includes the procedures and tools for gathering, analyzing, and disseminating research insights. It is closely related to governance. Often, an insights repository is used to handle this.
Research-intensive businesses develop enormous data libraries. To make it simple for teams to access and use this material through research repositories, ResearchOps must gather and organize it.
By preventing teams from conducting the same research twice, these research repositories help conserve time and money.
The following are typical ResearchOps tasks and projects in knowledge management:
- Creating standardized forms for gathering data throughout the research.
- Creating a database of research insights that the entire business may use to store the results of studies.
- Establishing frequent gatherings or other venues to update the company on existing user insights.
- Collaborating with other research teams to develop a complete supply of insights.
Many tools are employed by researchers. In order to boost productivity and scale research, ResearchOps is in charge of the strategic acquisition and management of tools and platforms.
Here’s how ResearchOps manages tools:
- Applications for managing and storing PII.
- Making sure research instruments adhere to data privacy laws.
- Research instruments for interviews, surveys, and usability studies.
- Regulating permissions and access.
- Assisting with tools and process onboarding and training.
- Keeping up with tool subscriptions and licenses.
Through guidelines, templates, training, and orientation, competency involves empowering and educating others (including individuals outside the core research team) to conduct research.
It is essential to expand the organization’s research capabilities and expertise as the need for and volume of research undertaken grows. The goal of the competency component is to encourage more people to comprehend and do research.
To speed up onboarding, ResearchOps must also offer coaching to new researchers.
ResearchOps must develop the standard operating guidelines for research methodologies and which studies to use in addition to physical training.
6. Advocacy and communication
The value of user research is shared, popularised, and promoted within an organization through ResearchOps.
This is defined and presented to the rest of the organization in this component. What steps are being taken to ensure that the rest of the organization is aware of the importance and influence of research?
The following advocacy-related ResearchOps activities and projects are typical:
- Establishing a UX research purpose that is consistent with the organization’s mission.
- Research communication succeeds.
- Creating case studies that demonstrate how user research helped to address product issues, boost revenue, or increase user signups.
- Provide frequent updates on progress and research discoveries.
How to get started with ResearchOps
ResearchOps eventually assists your company in making decisions faster and with fewer hassles if the purpose of research is to improve judgments through better insights.
If you’re starting a team or simply seeking to improve the operations of your current research procedures, the 6 tips provided below will help you get started with ResearchOps.
Create a ResearchOps framework
You must first establish a strong research framework.
What your research practice can and will accomplish is laid out in a framework. In your research practice, it can also be used to decide who will be responsible for what, preventing misunderstandings from occurring.
To start, consider how your team currently tackles R&D when developing your framework, after which, ask questions like:
- What kind of research has my team already done?
- Do they have any deadlines that might impact how they see research, be it internally or externally?
- What are the current logistics of my research?
You can create a framework that displays growth for your organization by providing answers to these questions. There are many ways you can come up with one using mind-mapping tools, Kanban tools, or design tools.
In order to prevent the ResearchOps manager from becoming overburdened, it’s crucial to set the line between what your researchers will handle and what your ResearchOps team will be in charge of.
Involve your entire team
Designers, engineers, marketers, support staff, and anybody else your research may influence can be involved in this.
Professionals in research operations may be in charge of developing scalable, repeatable procedures for disseminating, archiving, and presenting research to the rest of your team.
You can share and promote your study by either sharing knowledge with the larger staff on a regular basis through newsletters, lunch and learns, or workshops, putting together case studies to show how research affects company metrics, or presenting study findings in person or through reports to stakeholders.
All of the aforementioned concepts need time and effort, which is why using specialized ResearchOps makes them simpler.
Pick one area to perfect, then branch out
Don’t strive to perfect everything at once since that will quickly overwhelm you. It’s preferable to concentrate first on the area that will have the most impact on your research when you first begin your research activities.
For instance, many teams start getting into ResearchOps by managing panels and recruiting participants.
One of the main problems facing researchers worldwide is recruitment. This is due to the fact that recruiting involves more than merely locating participants for your user research sessions.
Finding the right people, efficiently screening them, planning sessions at the perfect time on the right platform, interacting with participants, making sure they are fairly compensated, and handling any privacy or legal issues are all part of it.
Build a habit
You should perform research frequently and on a regular basis. With knowledge from your consumers that will enable you to make wiser, more informed judgments, your team should feel prepared to tackle your company’s difficulties.
But for most people who are dedicated to a regular research practice, the issue is that it’s challenging. Because there are so many moving parts, performing it correctly necessitates a lot of upfront preparation to ensure that nothing goes wrong.
Thankfully, ResearchOps can assist in making research feel less like work and more like a habit.
Make your research easy to access
Research must be accessible to all, sometimes even after it has been completed, in order to have a long-lasting influence on the decisions and activities of your firm.
When considering a research repository, have a broader perspective. Don’t overlook passive feedback from social interactions, NPS ratings, and support tickets.
A ResearchOps team can help organize and store this material in a way that makes it simple for your entire team to access. There are several tools available to make this easier, but it’s crucial that your team selects a way that everyone can use.
Let it grow and evolve with time
As with other divisions, once ResearchOps is up and running, let it develop and progress to identify ongoing difficulties the R&D team faces.
The ResearchOps function can then develop and acquire a full framework for itself with regular team feedback and communication as well as auditing replies.
How ResearchOps aligns with DesignOps
It makes sense that, as ResearchOps and DesignOps have developed from UX, they would cooperate to enhance teams and workflows. Many businesses consider ResearchOps to be a subsidiary of DesignOps rather than a separate department.
The position of DesignOps has existed for some time, whereas ResearchOps is still in its early stages. We’ll probably see more businesses as the field develops, perhaps even opportunities for DesignOps and ResearchOps.
There is a clear distinction between the two departments when you look at their primary goals and duties, but there are also some areas of overlap.
Shared objectives and values are where DesignOps and ResearchOps converge the most.
Although their tasks and procedures don’t always coincide, they must cooperate in order to achieve a common objective. Teams must also cooperate in order to get organizational-wide insights and reports.
It is crucial that they adhere to the same values as they develop together. But just like design and product, design and strategy, and design and engineering are partners, design and research need to be seen as one too.
It is undeniable that DesignOps and ResearchOps are interwoven, regardless of how they develop in the future. Without user and customer research, design cannot function successfully, and design depends on research to provide what users and customers need.
If you want to learn how Cubyts can help with your design research activities, get in touch with us and we’d be happy to show you!