As you begin to reconsider your mix of outsourced vs. in‑sourced market research, it is easy to get swayed by the very real, potential benefits: feasibility, responsiveness, security, costs.
But even with compelling reasons for moving toward in-house research, proceed with caution. In fact, the best option is to take a pilot approach. Take two or three months, and a couple of in-house projects, while you test the tools you plan to use.
Test Your Market Research Tools
If you’re going to do more research in‑house, then you’re likely planning on investing in some specialized tools, whether it’s an online survey platform, a panel management program or social media research tools. Many of these products come with trial periods, so take full advantage of that opportunity to actually use them.
As you try-before-you-buy, ask yourself some honest questions:
- How easy are these tools to use?
- What investment, in time and money, will you have to make to get your staff proficient in their use?
- Do these tools really have all the features that you need?
- How much time does it take to set-up or program the tools for real-world research?
- How much time does it take to customize or automate reports or other output?
- Will your in-house staff have the time or skills to manage these tools, or in reality, will you have to engage with a consultant who specializes in them?
Until you use these tools for a “live” project, you can’t really assess either the learning curve investment or the true “cost” of using them.
Market Research Tools Take Expertise
A market research agency typically has staff with extensive experience with various tools. Indeed, it is common for a market research company to have staff who specialize in programming with specific online survey tools, and so on. If your in-house volume of work is low, it can be hard to develop that expertise in–house. It’s hard to maintain—let alone build—expertise with specific market research software products when you have weeks or months between programming tasks.
Bottom line: Yes, there are many amazingly simple tools available to facilitate the research process these days, but they still take time and money to acquire and use. So before you transition to in-house research, be sure you honestly assess the true costs of these tools—both in terms of actual out of pocket expense and staff time. By testing tools out during a trial period with real projects, you will reduce the risk of having overly optimistic expectations.
Coming Next: In the third and final part of this series on transitioning to in-house market research, we’ll provide a checklist for realistically assessing in-house skills and staffing requirements.[In case you missed it, Part 1 of this series can be found here.]
[Want easy, convenient market research training for your staff? See our current online class list.]