If your firm has an internal research department that is independent, properly trained in research design, analytics and execution and equipped with the necessary technology, there should be no need to outsource the research process. If your firm does not have an internal research department you may consider purchasing web-based research software and implementing the research program on your own. Alternatively, you may wish to use a third party.
Independence and objectivity are the main reasons for using a third party to execute your client feedback program – especially if you are conducting employee surveys. Further, there can be cost advantages if you don’t want to or cannot invest in the proper software or commit personnel time to the project.
An independent third party can construct your survey and analyze your results without feeling the pressure of internal agendas or the need to “confirm” self-serving hypotheses about your customers. When research is conducted internally, the person conducting the research has his/her own opinions as to what your company’s customers think creating personal bias. Personal bias can result in leading questions, leading response categories, a limited or myopic range of questions, and confirmatory hypothesis testing. A biased research process will lead to biased findings that in turn will result in sub-optimal strategic and tactical decisions.
There is little argument that you know your business better than anyone. That knowledge alone, however, is not compelling enough reason to engage in the research process yourself. The key consideration is how well you know the business of research. Questionnaire design and data analysis is quite challenging. A poorly designed questionnaire and a poor analysis strategy will lead to useless results, wasted money, and disappointment – and sometimes you may not know it until it’s too late! The “garbage-in, garbage-out” concept applies to this process and has come back to haunt many companies.
Another consideration is time. Doing research in-house requires significant time and effort from at least one member of your management team, who will be sidetracked from doing his/her job. There is a significant “opportunity cost” involved with this level of business distraction. Also, obtaining the materials, technology and infrastructure that it takes to run a research project is expensive, especially when you consider that additional time and money will be used by your IT department in initializing survey, analytics and web software.
Colin Wahl, CEO Client Opinions, Inc