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DIY for in-house insights professionals is a waste of time!

Charles Pearson
LDN - 23 Jun 2015
Charles Pearson
DIY for in-house insights professionals is a waste of time!

Having had many recent interactions with in-house researchers in the US and UK who already have community panels in place with an established provider of community panel software, I continue to be shocked that so many do almost everything themselves when it would seem that there are many more important things for insights professionals to do with their time. In fact, one client who is considering moving their community panel from a DIY software provider to Verve and would then no longer script their own surveys, asked me what types of things their researchers should do with the extra time that would be freed up as a result of this change. Although I thought the answer was obvious, this made clear to me that this client's insights team had become so accustomed to spending their time scripting surveys and handling other operational tasks associated with fielding online research with their community panel, that they forgot what was core to their insights roles.

Activities core to the in-house insights role should include:

  • Working closely with internal stakeholders to define research objectives
  • Authoring research briefs and ensuring the supplier's recommended methodological approach will meet the objectives
  • Reviewing and feeding back on the questionnaire and survey link provided by the supplier
  • Providing guidance to the supplier as to what the analysis/report should include
  • Reviewing the report before it is finalised to ensure it ties back to the objectives, disseminating the key insights, and ensuring these insights are fully implemented throughout their organisation

How could the above not be a full time job if done properly?

Anyone who has programmed surveys themselves knows full well that unless it is a very simple and short survey, considerable time would be needed to set-up, script and test the survey. Unless this is your full time job, then you are apt not to be nearly as fast or efficient with the process. Suppliers have dedicated teams of professionals who do this specific type of work day in and day out, as well these dedicated teams can easily do custom programming which is often beneficial to improve upon the efficient collection of data and optimal use of the respondent's time and as a result makes the respondent experience much better overall thereby improving response rates and completion rates, minimising attrition, etc.

Also, with so much discussion within our industry regarding how in-house insights professionals need to evolve and identify new ways to add value and insight, why would survey scripting be added to their list of responsibilities? In fact, the skills needed to handle these operational tasks are entirely different than those which are needed to be effective in-house insights professionals. Several additional questions to consider include:

  • If suppliers have figured this out by having separate professionals who handle these tasks as their full time job, then why haven't in-house insights professionals done the same?
  • When did scripting online surveys become a key part of their role? Was this due to limited budgets associated with the community panel and research associated with it?
  • What about the salary budget, shouldn't this part of the research department's budget be given the same consideration to ensure that the activities and productivity of in-house insights professionals be concentrated on making the best use of their time?

DIY community panel software suppliers also charge steep licensing fees which do not typically include any services -- these charges just allow access to the platform, some training, and the hosting for scripting of and participation in surveys. In stark contrast, full service community panel suppliers specialise in providing in-house insights professionals with the services they need which typically include determining the research design, drafting the questionnaire, scripting and testing the survey, sample selection, sending of invites, monitoring progress in field, sending of reminders, data cleaning and processing, data tables production, analysis of data, and PowerPoint report writing.

Contrary to popular belief, DIY for in-house insights professionals is a waste of time!