Out-tasking Comes to Market Research: Why In-House vs Outsourced Is No Longer the Choice Clients seeking to conduct a market research project typically choose one of two paths: do it in-house or outsource to a full-service market research agency. Pretty simple. But now, a third option exists: out-tasking. Today, there are plenty of fantastic freelancers and micro-boutiques that have deep expertise. And on the client-side, there are lots of cases where research needs are high but budgets are low. Consider these two trends together, and the emergence of a new option becomes obvious: market research out-tasking. [As an aside, Jeff Kaplan of ThinkStrategies originally coined the phrase “out-tasking” to describe the selective outsourcing of specific IT tasks to third-party service providers. At the time, 1994, this was a pretty important distinction because IT projects until then were typically done in-house or outsourced in entirety.] An example of Market Research Out-tasking Here’s a perfect example. A client-side research manager had a need for a project. He knew enough to know that it was too big for his team to handle in-house. So he talked to a few research agencies, and got back bids averaging about $50,000. The thing was, the client was doing the data collection. So that was $50,000, with no sample costs. Upon further reflecting, the client decided there had to be an option. So I discussed various scenarios with him, helping to weigh the respective pros and cons. The market research manager’s ultimate decision? Do the project management and reporting in-house, but hire an experienced researcher for questionnaire design and data analysis—two very discrete parts of the process. The budget impact in this case was notable. The out of pocket costs dropped from $50k to roughly $12k. Of course, there are far more costs than that $12k. They are also going to dedicate a significant amount of staff time (2 mid-level professionals, and access to an internal graphics pro), survey hosting, and data collection costs. So while the OOP is low, it’s not the only cost. Further, they won’t get the benefit of a full-service agency’s experience. Not a Fluke Out-tasking of market research is becoming more common. But it isn’t a risk-free proposition. You should only consider out-tasking a viable option if: • Someone on your team has experience managing market research projects. There are lots of risks in market research; you need a project manager who can navigate around them. • You have access to a known, quality sample source (which is harder than it sounds) • You don’t mind a little risk. Freelancers are, after all, individuals. They generally don’t have back-up. Someone gets sick, or has a sick child, and your schedule could slip. • Your internal clients will find an internally delivered report credible. Sometimes research results simply have more authority when delivered by a reputable third party. Bottom-line Market research out-tasking is a legitimate choice for clients seeking to augment in-house resources with specific skills sets in order to get the job done. There are many highly-skilled, independent researchers available, offering various skills. If a full-service agency isn’t an option, out-tasking is great alternative. For more information, please contact Kathryn Korostoff at [email protected] or visit us online at www.ResearchRockstar.com.