Research services are available from a huge number of suppliers, ranging from local to national in scope, and including research generalists, sector specialists, and niche players supplying every service from basic data
collection, to sophisticated analysis.
In selecting a research company it is important to look beyond the glossy brochures, and at issues such as:
Independence: government-related companies are less likely to be objective, but may be able to provide internal data, access to leading companies, and useful connections.
Information Sources: multiple sources, including government and industry insiders, are needed to provide a balanced view.
Resources: may be limited. Check what resources are available in-house, and what will be sub-contracted. For multi-location research, are local resources available, and with what controls?
Experience: look at case studies, client lists, and references that can be checked. A little due diligence at the outset can save a lot of time, effort, and cost at the end.
Professionalism: standard procedures and good communications provide added confidence, and minimise the need to micro-manage projects.
Project Team: be clear about who will actually deliver the project, and whether any aspects of the work will be sub-contracted. Ensure lines of communication with the project director are clear.
Project Management: good management will minimise the need for client inputs and delays.
Proposal: should show an understanding of the brief, be well organised, and provide clear information on the project plan and delivery.
Research costs – and benefits – vary widely (in terms of price, as well as executive time and stress, and value of information) depending on the company used. Resources should be selected to provide the best balance of value, insight, and professional service for the job in hand.