Tools and protocols

Posted on June 21, 2022
3 min read


Selecting and implementing the right tools for your team is a key component of building out a research repository within your organization.

Protocols and governance 

We all understand the burden of learning yet another tool and it’s our ability to support users in our organization that can make or break the introduction and implementation of new systems.

This support goes beyond identifying the roles and access levels for your repository. It includes:

  • How many people in the organization can freely browse the whole repository?
  • What type of user will access only high-level summaries vs. raw data?
  • Who is in charge of designing and maintaining the taxonomy?
  • Are multiple teams able to access all the data or only data that is relevant to their areas of operation?
  • Which type of users can submit/upload information to the repository?
  • How many administrators do you need and what is their role?
  • Who will be in charge of connecting the dots across multiple projects and business units

No matter how automated your repository is, once it’s up and running, you will need somebody in the organization whose role includes making sure the repository is organized, easy to use, and most importantly, useful. This doesn’t necessarily mean a full-time job, but somebody has to be the point of contact and the owner when improving usage protocols or onboarding new users.

In the same way that online communities establish guidelines to help their members build an environment where everybody can contribute and benefit, documentation and policies are needed when it comes to building an effective repository.

Providing transparent rules of engagement can help guide users to make the most of the repository and encourage each part of the organization to engage in productive ways.

Make sure your rules of engagement include clear information about:

  • How to contribute to the repository
  • What type of customer/user information can be stored
  • How to request access to the repository/specific projects/insights etc
  • How to share information from the repository to other tools, teams, etc
  • What labels, tags, or categories can be used to organize the information
  • How to capture new insights
  • How to collaborate on information stored in the repository

The rules of engagement will change over time, so make sure you keep the documentation up to date and easily accessible.

Data policies 

If your repository is going to store identifiable information about your customers or users, here are a few things to consider:

  • Your customers need to know that you are storing that data and where it is stored. Normally this information is communicated in your terms and conditions.
  • Your research subjects may need to fill out consent forms accepting the use of their information for research purposes.
  • Make sure you work with tools that are GDPR compliant.

Selecting the right tools

Once you’ve covered your implementation strategy and your team feels confident about the processes you would like to improve in your research practice, it’s time to pick the right set of tools to help you execute.

The teams that are most successful at picking and leveraging the right tools are those who understand deeply their requirements. These teams don’t need to be sold to; they know what they want. 

Buying tools in some organizations can be slow and painful. If you are going to go through a lengthy procurement process, you want to make sure you are buying a tool that will scale with you over time.

Here are a few things you should consider when selecting the right tool for your user research repository:

Search capabilities: Team members and stakeholders should be able to search the content of the repository easily. The search functionality should allow for a deep search of aspects like metadata, tags, authors, customers/users, and any other type of classification you want to use to label your research data.

Taxonomy management: Since your taxonomy will evolve over time, you want to make sure that you have the ability to manage your labels easily. Consistency is a key part of keeping your repository useful.

Data security: Hosting research data that may contain identifiable customer information can be tricky. You want to work with companies with the highest standards of data protection and security. Make sure vendors can share comprehensive documentation on their data and security practices.

Scalability: You want to make sure that as your team and your business grow, you can scale the way you store and share insights. The ability to manage multiple teams and multiple levels of permissions becomes an integral part of your tool selection process.

Data formats and integrations: Make sure the tool of your choice can support all the data formats you are planning to centralize. Additionally, integrating your repository with other internal tools that are part of the current workflow may become handy when onboarding other team members.

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