Any sufficiently agile business has to conduct some form of research and analysis to thrive. Perhaps your company needs to understand your industry better, or study a new market. Maybe you need to assess a potential partner or track down the latest innovations.
Whatever the case may be, research is essential for business success.
But what if your company doesn’t have the time or resources to conduct this research internally? This is a common issue as research is no easy task — it requires a significant amount of time, manpower, and money to perform effectively.
This is where research process outsourcing (RPO) comes in.
In this article, we will delve deeper into what RPO is, how it works, and some of its benefits and challenges.
What Is Research Process Outsourcing?
RPO is a type of business process outsourcing (BPO) where an organization outsources its research and analysis functions to another company.
This means that the research team from the outsourcing company will be responsible for conducting all the necessary research on behalf of the client organization.
The scope of work will be determined by the client, who will also provide guidance and feedback during the project.
The client organization will continue to be responsible for making decisions based on the research findings.
However, they will have more time and resources available to focus on other areas of their business as they will not have to worry about conducting the research themselves.
How Does Research Process Outsourcing Work?
There are three main steps involved in RPO:
- Defining the research project scope and objectives with the client.
- Conducting the research and analysis.
- Presenting the findings and recommendations to the client.
The first step is arguably the most important as it will determine the scope of work for the outsourcing company.
The client will need to provide clear instructions on what they want to achieve with the research project. They should also specify any deadlines and budget constraints.
Once the scope has been defined, the research team from the outsourcing company can begin their work. This usually involves desk research, data analysis, and interviews with industry experts.
When the research has been conducted by the third-party, the team will compile their findings and present them to the client. The client can then use this information to make informed decisions about their business.
Where Might you use Research Process Outsourcing?
RPO can be used for a variety of purposes, a few of the main ones include the following:
Conducting Market Research
This involves understanding the size and growth of a particular market, as well as the needs and wants of consumers within that market.
This type of research is essential for businesses that are looking to enter a new market or launch a new product.
Understanding what your competitors are doing is crucial for any business. RPO can help you track down their latest innovations, marketing strategies, and more.
This will give you an edge over your competitors and help you make better decisions for your own business.
If you’re looking to form a partnership with another organization, it’s important to do your due diligence and assess whether they would be a good fit for your company.
RPO can help you gather information about potential partners so that you can make an informed decision.
This covers a broad range of topics, from medical research to environmental studies.
If your organization needs to gather data or carry out experiments, RPO can be used to supplement your own internal research efforts.
This involves understanding a company’s financial statements and performance. It can be useful for investors who are looking to assess a potential investment, or for businesses that are considering partnering with or acquiring another company.
5 Benefits of Research Process Outsourcing
There are many benefits that an organization can reap by outsourcing their research and analysis.
Hiring an external research team is often more cost-effective than conducting the research internally.
This is because you will not have to bear the costs of recruiting, training, and managing a research team within your own company.
2. Access to Experts
When you outsource your research, you will have access to a team of experienced professionals who are experts in their field.
This ensures that you will get high-quality research results that you can rely on to make important business decisions.
3. Increased Efficiency
Conducting research internally can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive process.
By outsourcing this function, you can free up your team’s time so that they can focus on other tasks, leading to increased efficiency and productivity within your organization.
Outsourcing your research needs also gives you the flexibility to scale up or down the scope and size of your research project according to your budget and requirements.
5. Risk Reduction
When you outsource your research, you can reduce the risks associated with conducting this type of work internally.
For example, if you do not have the expertise or experience in-house to carry out a complex research project, it may be better to leave it to the professionals.
Challenges of Research Process Outsourcing
Research process outsourcing is not without its difficulties. There are significant difficulties that can come about if you are left unaware of its challenges.
Let’s go through some common challenges of research process outsourcing, and discuss how to address them effectively.
1. Defining the Scope of Work
It is important to have a clear understanding of what needs to be researched before outsourcing this function. Otherwise, the research team may not be able to deliver what is expected or needed.
To do this effectively:
- Understand your business needs and objectives.
- Determine the type of research required.
- Identify the target audience or market.
- Establish what information needs to be gathered.
2. Maintaining Quality Control
As the client organization, you will need to ensure that the research team is delivering high-quality work that meets your standards. This can be challenging as you will not be directly overseeing their work on a day-to-day basis.
To maintain quality control, you will need to:
- Establish clear guidelines and expectations for the project.
- Set up regular communication channels with the research team.
- Perform quality checks at key milestones throughout the project.
3. Managing Cultural Differences
When working with an outsourcing company, it is important to be aware of any cultural differences that may exist between your two organizations.
These differences can impact the way work is conducted, which may lead to misunderstandings or conflict.
To avoid any issues, it is important to:
- Be aware of your own company’s culture.
- Learn about the outsourcing company’s culture.
- Take steps to bridge any cultural gaps between the two organizations.
4. Managing Expectations
It is important to set realistic expectations for the research project, as well as for the outsourcing company. Otherwise, you may end up being disappointed with the results.
To achieve this, consider:
- Defining the objectives of the research project.
- Drafting a detailed scope of work.
- Providing clear and concise guidelines.
- Communicating regularly with the research team.
5. Ensuring Data Security
Anytime sensitive or confidential data is involved, there is a risk of it being leaked or stolen. This is something that needs to be considered when outsourcing research, as you will be sharing this data with the research team.
In order to keep your data secure, make sure to choose an outsourcing company that has experience with handling sensitive data, has robust security measures in place, and has a track recording of providing quality deliverables.
6. Keeping up With Changes
The business world is constantly changing, which means that your research needs may also change over time.
It is important to keep this in mind when working with an RPO provider, as they may not be able to adapt to sudden changes as quickly as you can.
8 Top Tips for Research Process Outsourcing
When outsourcing your research and analysis functions, it is important to keep the following in mind:
1. Define the scope of work clearly from the outset. This will ensure that both parties are clear on what is expected and avoid any misunderstandings later on.
2. Choose an outsourcing partner carefully. Make sure to assess their capabilities and track record before making a decision.
3. Communicate regularly with your outsourcing partner. This will help to ensure that the project is on track and that they are meeting your expectations.
4. Be prepared to invest time and resources into the project. Although outsourcing can save you time and money in the long run, it is important to remember that there will be an initial investment required.
5. Be flexible with your requirements. Remember that you are working with another company and that they may have different ways of doing things. Try to be open-minded and willing to compromise where necessary.
6. Be patient. Research projects can take time to complete, so it is important to be patient and not expect results overnight.
7. Review the research findings carefully before making any decisions. This is an important step in the process as the research findings will form the basis of your decisions.
8. Be prepared to make changes to your plans based on the research findings. The whole point of outsourcing is to gain new insights that you may not have considered before. Be flexible and be willing to change your plans if the research suggests that it would be beneficial.
Research process outsourcing can be a great way for organizations to save time and resources on their research and analysis needs. However, it is important to keep the above considerations in mind to ensure a successful outcome.
Understand its benefits and challenges, and decide whether it is the right option for your business. Good luck!