I am lucky enough to have enough research coming in at my company that I am beginning to have a hard time organizing my research insights. I am evaluating some options that allow me to organize research insights in a way that both are easy to access and reference and also ensure that I'm not double dipping my user pools on repeat site-visits. How do you deal with your research documentation as it scales?
Teams and organizations are all so different and there are so many variables, you have to just do what works best for your situation.
If you have a little freedom to come up with your own plan and the tools you need, there are plenty of options depending which need you're focused on:
"organize research insights in a way that both are easy to access and reference"
Evernote, OneNote - Plenty of people, myself included, have stored user research notes in these. They're cloud-connected, easily shared and have more than adequate search baked right in.
Sharepoint, DropBox - Plenty of enterprises still use them. If you come up with a simple and intuitive folder taxonomy, park that file system on the appropriate cloud and people can subscribe to changes as it fills up over time. Assuming you don't rearrange the folders, those interested in searching and perusing your research documentation don't have any new learning curve to master beyond the same skills they use to find stuff on their own drive. (And if they have trouble doing that, then that's their problem.)
Support Portals/Knowledge Bases - There are more ambitious ways you can go as well. I personally like the idea of an internal-facing customer support portal like MindTouch (example MindTouch portal) or ZenDesk so that those interested can self-service their research questions the same way paying customers browse FAQs and search for information about using products they paid money for. Again, this builds on interactions already know and doesn't introduce new learning curve.
"ensure that I'm not double dipping my user pools on repeat site-visits."
This need I'm less opinionated about in terms of solutions because I've often kludged together something together via MailChimp and/or Google Sheets. But a CRM isn't a bad framework for solving this particular problem. Just capture and track all of your participants on useful dimensions:
- The ones who agreed to participant, but no-showed
- Those who agreed but then rescheduled
- Those who agreed, then cancelled but expressed interest
- Those who agreed, showed up, and got paid
- Those who agreed, showed up, got paid but maybe they were an over-baked ham and not someone you want to invite the next time
- Those who declined altogether
- Those who happily participated free with no compensation
- Those who wanted to participate but didn't screen match for your study
The list goes on but if you're in a position where you can make studies happen, all of this stuff is worth tracking. Even if it's just a humble 'ol spreadsheet.