#WhatIsResearchOps? Our initial findings.

We have now closed the #WhatisResearchOps survey so we can do the full analysis alongside the workshop analysis. We’re combing through the data which will take some time, but here’s some initial findings to whet your appetite.

Who responded?

We had 337 responses and an 85% completion rate. 43% were members of the Slack community and around two thirds were planning to attend a global workshop.

Two fifths of those who completed the survey were user researchers, a fifth were designers and 15% were research or design leaders. Only 5% worked in research or design ops roles.

Job role

Just over half (51%) of the people who responded to the survey worked in-house in the private sector. This number actually rose to 54% when we added in those who answered ‘other’ but stated in-house companies. Next highest were agencies (19%), followed by freelance/consultant and government/public sector (12%).

Type of company

Amongst those working in-house for private sector companies, there was a skew towards responses from medium and larger organisations whereas there was a skew to smaller sized agencies. Freelancers/consultants were mostly sole traders or working for a boutique company (under 10 people).

Type and size of company

It appears that understanding #WhatIsResearchOps is of interest to people working at companies of all sizes because in general, there was no particular skew to size of organisation amongst our respondents and we had a fairly even distrubution of responses.

  • 16% were sole traders or worked at boutiques with under 10 employees
  • 19% worked for small companies with between 11 and 100 employees
  • 28% for medium sized companies with between 100 and 1000 employees
  • 37% worked for large companies with 1000+ employees.

We were unable to break down the 37% further as we didn’t have a break for over 1,000 employees. Next time we run a survey, we will need to reconsider our options.

Our responses came from across the globe but as you might expect given the location of a lot of tech companies as well as our sphere of influence as a community, our top countries of residence were USA (39%), UK (20%), Australia (9%) and Canada (4%).

How mature are User Research operations?

We asked people ‘What kinds of research does your organisation carry out regularly?’ The answer choices we gave people were based on the Research Funnel:

  • Exploratory (far away from the problem, big picture, defining what problems to solve)
  • Strategic (known problems, still big picture, high level, often ad hoc or one off projects)
  • Tactical (closer to the problem/solution, focused on small features or parts of a product/service)
  • Operational (very close to the problem/solution, continuous research or data gathering, metrics, day to day reporting)
  • No research

The most commonly carried out kinds of research were tactical and strategic research. People working for small orgs reported carrying out higher levels of exploratory and strategic research compared to other orgs. People at large orgs reported carrying out the most tactical and operational research.

The research funnel by org size

Just under a third of our participants said that research operations were quite immature at their organisation with a further 29% opting for the middle ground of neither mature nor immature. A fifth said research ops were quite mature.

Maturity of research operations

Interestingly, research and design leaders reported slightly higher levels of research ops maturity within their organisations.

Maturity of research operations

Our results showed that people working in larger organisations don’t necessarily have the most mature research operations with over a third of large orgs reporting them to be ‘quite immature’.

Maturity of research operations by org size

Our next task is to look at the responses to the questions we asked on the Design Research Maturity Model to see whether people reported higher levels of maturity for certain attributes. We also need to delve further into the open ended responses alongside the workshops analysis. Stay tuned for more soon.