With a full range of potential market research partners at our fingertips, how do you know when to use specialized research providers or outsource projects in one fell swoop to a single research provider? Let’s review the options.
Full service research agencies
Full service research agencies offer a one-stop-shop for anyone needing research services. This includes writing proposals, designing the research methodology, budgeting, preparing data collection tools, sampling, fielding the data collection tool to research participants, analyzing the data, preparing reports, and presenting results to stakeholders. There are several things to think about when deciding whether to work with a full-service firm.
- If you are brand new to research and have never conducted a research study before, you should absolutely consider using a full-service agency. They will guide you along the way and make sure you didn’t miss important parts of the process that you could never know about otherwise.
- If you’re an expert worrier, full-service could work well for you. They will handle all the complicated decisions, fix every mistake, and keep the entire project running smoothly until you’re ready to present the results to the board and make final decisions. Set it and forget it.
- If you need a budget set in stone for budget planning, look no further than full-service. It won’t be cheaper than out-sourcing secific components, but the pricing will be offered as a single number and you won’t have to worry about negotiating rates with every single supplier for every single component of the project.
- If you’re concerned about maintaining consistent, low staffing levels consider using a full-service firm. By not maintaining a dedicated research department, you can manage the ebb and flow that will result from occasional projects. You won’t need to worry about finding trusted and available contract researchers to accommodate unpredictable work needs.
- Hiring for specialized research and statistics roles is difficult particularly if you need to keep them busy all year long and you don’t have sufficient specialized work for them to do. By outsourcing areas of unusual expertise to a full-service company, you get the high level of expertise every time and only when you need it.
- Keep in mind that full service companies may actually be outsourcing portions of your work to one or more third party research suppliers, perhaps a sampling company, a fieldwork company, or a tabulation company. If your goal was to keep your entire project in the hands of one company, be sure to ask them which suppliers they plan to use.
Specialized service agencies
Specialized companies offer a variety of skills including research design, development of data collection tools, sampling, recruiting, fieldwork, coding and data entry, data analysis, dashboarding, and reporting. There are unlimited companies providing unlimited research services. When might you use a company offering these types of services?
- You are or employ an experienced and skilled researcher who doesn’t need to learn any of the basics. You know all the components that you need, you know what quality looks like, and you know the right questions to ask.
- If your methodology is straightforward and uncomplicated, you might be well served out-sourcing the components. Complicated sampling strategies, focus group recruitment, moderation, interviews and more can be easily handled by fieldwork companies that specialize in these areas.
- When you know you only need help with a few specific things, you might as well go directly to the source. You’ll get to speak directly to the expert providing the service, rather than playing telephone with several people.
- You already conduct a lot of research regularly and don’t need to worry about ebbs and flows. Global companies that work with a large portfolio of brands conduct research throughout the entire year. They don’t need to worry about finding sufficient employment for their experts because there are always many projects happening at the same time.
- You already have highly skilled experts in house. An important part of conducting high quality research is ensuring that highly skilled researchers and statisticians can guide the methodology and statistical analysis. Large companies in particular can afford to hire these types of people and keep them fully engaged, on-task throughout the year.
- Sometimes, products and services are so highly confidential and proprietary that the research requires internal, and deep-rooted knowledge of your products and services, perhaps even of highly confidential information. Keep that highly confidential knowledge in-house and outsource just the parts that can be shared.
There’s no right answer for everyone, but there is a right answer for you. We’d be happy to help you figure out what would work best for your next project. Please get in touch with us!
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