enquiries@rodlaird.co.uk »
Freephone 0800 612 0910
Freefax 0800 612 0920
Now taking bookings
Bookmark and Share

11 questions to ask your prospective research company to see if they are any good (17 Jun 09)

Use this checklist so you can see whether you can work together

I recently heard from Sandy Ochojna, now known as the Survey Doctor, who, after thirty years in the research business has left as the director of Ipsos MORI North in Manchester after being involved in pitches for research projects.

He estimates that it takes 3 presentations by a good research company to get one piece of work.

I thought it would interest you if I got Sandy to put together his thoughts on the questions that research companies must like not to be asked.

Here they are.

You might want to use some of these when you are next assessing the suitability of a researcher for a project. They make fascinating reading.

1. What do you think of the tender?
This is a tricky question for a researcher to answer, especially if the tender is not that good, and particularly if it is quite prescriptive. The key is to listen to how they justify their assessment of the tender.

2. Do you think the budget can really produce the goods?
The bidder has made their pitch based on the budget set out so the answer has to be ‘yes’, but again listen to the justification.

The way the bidder responds to 1) and 2) will give you some insight into how committed they are to delivering the best result as opposed to giving you what you want. Can they criticise or disagree with you in a constructive manner or will they just do what you want even if it might not be the right or best way?

3. Is the team pitching today the one which will do the job?
This is a common and very important question. Most agencies do field the appropriate executive team, but ask the lead member at the pitch exactly in what stages of the exercise they will have meaningful involvement, and not just ‘sign off’.

4. Can we use our own questionnaire?
This is always an embarrassing question and the answer should be ‘probably no’. You are paying for the expertise and experience of the agency to design as simple and effective a questionnaire as possible. Again, listen to how the bidder tries to say ‘no’ in the most constructive yet unambiguous way.

5. Can we do like we have done for the last five years?
The problem with trackers is that to change any element of the survey can destroy its tracking capability, yet for the bidder to say ‘no’ is tantamount to implying that you have been wasting your money in the past.

Listen to how the bidder tries to compromise and perhaps introduce improvements to the survey without putting in jeopardy the main tracking elements. This is all about assessing how accommodating and realistic the bidder is to your internal pressures for the survey to continue unchanged.

6. Another agency is coming in at £5k less

Like to read more or make a comment? Log in or register below



Comment by Tom GMPTE — 19 Jun 09 at 16:19:09

There's also an excellent network of client-side researchers that you can use to check out agency/ researcher credentials against - it's called the association of users of research agencies (see www.aura.org.uk). Well worth the annual outlay! Tom

Why not join the discussion!

Or even better still offer your own advice and tell us about things that others can learn from.

We moderate comments lightly so bear with us and we'll get your thoughts listed as soon as we can.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Not registered yet? Simply fill in the box below.

Forgotten your password?

Like to have access to this and hundreds of other articles like it? Register now!

Just pop your details in the form below, and you'll have full access to our library as well as receiving the free articles you have requested.

Research and evaluation
Resident involvement
Community involvement
Patient involvement
Communications & marketing
Equality and diversity
Community safety
All of these
Your work email

Already subscribed? Want to manage your account? »

Log in


Register now to benefit from hundreds of free hints, tips, articles and interviews

Your email address:

Contact us»

Latest Twitter updates

Other articles you may like:

11 questions to ask your prospective research company to see if they are any good

12 simple things to bear in mind when you undertake a research project in house

13 things to think about when you commission an evaluator - not a researcher …(And what's the difference, anyhow?)

A step by step guide to tendering a research project and choosing a consultant

Eleven ways of evaluating a consultant’s proposals

How to commission an evaluation consultant

How to commission a researcher

How to commission qualitative research and evaluation

Want to feel in control of the research process – rather than the other way around?

What’s the difference between research and evaluation – and what does it mean for when you commission an evaluator?

When you commission research, what should you look for in the reports you get?