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The State of ResearchOps: More Than Just Theory

A talk I gave at Strive, 2019 in Toronto, Canada.

Over the past decade, user research has matured significantly. It’s increasingly more common for large organisations to have dozens of people doing user research, whether as part of a dedicated team of researchers or other design roles. Growing team sizes and increasing organisational demand has meant that the pressures placed on people doing research have grown too. To meet demand and be efficient, impactful, compliant (and happy, lest we forget), researchers need more rigorous operational support.

In 2018, through the work of the ResearchOps Community and its #WhatisResearchOps initiative, the nascent practice of ResearchOps was given shape: via a series of global workshops by researchers and for researchers, the Community explored what ResearchOps should look like and produced a framework to map its various parts.

But what’s behind the theory? What does ResearchOps actually look like in the world today? And who are the people leading the way? In this talk, Kate will share insight into the state of ResearchOps today, talk about current and potential ResearchOps opportunities and challenges, and share what she thinks the future holds for this emerging practice.

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The State of ResearchOps: More Than Just Theory

  1. 1. KATE TOWSEY | RESEARCH OPS MANAGER | @KATETOWSEY The State of ResearchOps: More Than Just Theory
  2. 2. Agenda What is ResearchOps? The rise of ResearchOps People leading the way What ResearchOps is not Stuff we’re grappling with Atlassian ResearchOps team
  3. 3. Agenda What is ResearchOps? The rise of ResearchOps People leading the way What ResearchOps is not Stuff we’re grappling with Atlassian ResearchOps team
  4. 4. Agenda What is ResearchOps? The rise of ResearchOps People leading the way What ResearchOps is not Stuff we’re grappling with Atlassian ResearchOps team
  5. 5. Agenda What is ResearchOps? The rise of ResearchOps People leading the way What ResearchOps is not Stuff we’re grappling with Atlassian ResearchOps team
  6. 6. Agenda What is ResearchOps? The rise of ResearchOps People leading the way What ResearchOps is not Stuff we’re grappling with Atlassian ResearchOps team
  7. 7. Agenda What is ResearchOps? The rise of ResearchOps People leading the way What ResearchOps is not Stuff we’re grappling with Atlassian ResearchOps team
  8. 8. What is ResearchOps?
  9. 9. ResearchOps is the mechanisms and strategies that set user research in motion. It provides the roles, tools and processes needed to support researchers in delivering and scaling the impact of the craft across an organisation. RESEARCHOPS COMMUNITY
  10. 10. ResearchOps is the mechanisms and strategies that set user research in motion. It provides the roles, tools and processes needed to support researchers in delivering and scaling the impact of the craft across an organisation. RESEARCHOPS COMMUNITY
  11. 11. Research participant recruitment Recruiment panel management Procurement Research spaces Data governance Travel bookings Budget management Event Coordination Research Library Management Internal communications Expenses Space bookings Celebrations and condolences Conferences Vendor management Ops Service Design Service Desk management Thank you gifts AKA incentives Research technology and tooling Delivering APIs Managing migrations and sunsetting Developing manuals and guidelines Legal guidelines: consent forms and NDAs and behaviours Team communications and branding Onboarding new staff Programme management Misc. logistics … and more.
  12. 12. The rise of ResearchOps
  13. 13. RESEARCH TEAMS ARE GETTING BIGGER AND MORE SOPHISTICATED.
  14. 14. #WhatisResearchOps
  15. 15. 34 / 17 34 cities and 17 countries and a survey
  16. 16. People leading the way
  17. 17. 9 people 2 years “(It’s challenging) scaling a team with limited resources to provide comprehensive coverage to a fast-growing and fast-paced research function.” - Tim Toy Airbnb San Francisco
  18. 18. 3 people 1 year “ResearchOps allows me to indulge my geeky planning, spreadsheety side as well as my people-loving supportive side: it's the best of both worlds and it's incredibly fulfilling.” - Saskia Liebenberg Deliveroo London
  19. 19. 10 people 6 years “The spark behind scaling research operations is recognising and communicating the need as soon as possible. The longer you take to do that, the harder it becomes to amplify the value of your research investment.” 
 - Kari Peters booking.com Amsterdam
  20. 20. 1 person 1 year “The potential scope of Research Ops is vast, and therefore requires working closely with the team to understand their needs, and to develop and communicate a plan of attack that is both realistic to existing ops bandwidth, and flexible enough to evolve with the needs of an organization.” 
 - Lucy Walsh Spotify New York
  21. 21. 6 people 2 years “Don’t underestimate the resources you need to get the job done.” - Kate Towsey Atlassian Sydney
  22. 22. Microsoft
 LinkedIn Facebook Google Stripe Dropbox HMRC (UK Government) Australian Government
 Vrbo (part of Expedia Group) Workday
 Indeed… etc.
  23. 23. Atlassian ResearchOps team
  24. 24. Research participant recruitment Recruiment panel management Procurement Research spaces Data governance Travel bookings Budget management Event Coordination Research Library Management Internal communications Expenses Space bookings Celebrations and condolences Conferences Vendor management Ops Service Design Service Desk management Thank you gifts AKA incentives Research technology and tooling Delivering APIs Managing migrations and sunsetting Developing manuals and guidelines Legal guidelines: consent forms and NDAs and behaviours Team communications and branding Onboarding new staff Programme management Misc. logistics … and more.
  25. 25. Research participant recruitment Recruiment panel management Procurement Research spaces Data governance Travel bookings Budget management Event Coordination Research Library Management Internal communications Expenses Space bookings Celebrations and condolences Conferences Vendor management Ops Service Design Service Desk management Thank you gifts AKA incentives Research technology and tooling Delivering APIs Managing migrations and sunsetting Developing manuals and guidelines Legal guidelines: consent forms and NDAs and behaviours Team communications and branding Onboarding new staff Programme management Misc. logistics … and more.
  26. 26. Research participant recruitment Recruiment panel management Procurement Research spaces Data governance Travel bookings Budget management Event Coordination Research Library Management Internal communications Expenses Space bookings Celebrations and condolences Conferences Vendor management Ops Service Design Service Desk management Thank you gifts AKA incentives Research technology and tooling Delivering APIs Managing migrations and sunsetting Developing manuals and guidelines Legal guidelines: consent forms and NDAs and behaviours Team communications and branding Onboarding new staff Programme management Misc. logistics … and more.
  27. 27. Research participant recruitment Recruiment panel management Procurement Research spaces Data governance Travel bookings Budget management Event Coordination Research Library Management Internal communications Expenses Space bookings Celebrations and condolences Conferences Vendor management Ops Service Design Service Desk management Thank you gifts AKA incentives Research technology and tooling Delivering APIs Managing migrations and sunsetting Developing manuals and guidelines Legal guidelines: consent forms and NDAs and behaviours Team communications and branding Onboarding new staff Programme management Misc. logistics … and more.
  28. 28. Research participant recruitment Recruiment panel management Procurement Research spaces Data governance Travel bookings Budget management Event Coordination Research Library Management Internal communications Expenses Space bookings Celebrations and condolences Conferences Vendor management Ops Service Design Service Desk management Thank you gifts AKA incentives Research technology and tooling Delivering APIs Managing migrations and sunsetting Developing manuals and guidelines Legal guidelines: consent forms and NDAs and behaviours Team communications and branding Onboarding new staff Programme management Misc. logistics … and more.
  29. 29. What ResearchOps is not
  30. 30. IT IS NOT RESEARCH LEADERSHIP.
  31. 31. IT IS NOT RESEARCH STRATEGY.
  32. 32. IT IS NOT RESEARCHERS BEING MORE ORGANISED.
  33. 33. IT CANNOT BE DONE BY ONE PERSON.
  34. 34. The stuff we’re grapping with
  35. 35. We’re building a practice from scratch Making our own rules / shaping our own path Small community means we can get close and have impact Explore working with other Ops in the organisation Wildly underestimated 
 Proving worth with little resource
 
 Confusion as to what Ops is and what it is not Heavily reliant on clear and consistent research leadership Reliant on close collaboration across the entire organisation CHALLENGES OPPORTUNITIES
  36. 36. We’re building a practice from scratch Making our own rules / shaping our own path Small community means we can get close and have impact Explore working with other Ops in the organisation Wildly underestimated 
 Proving worth with little resource
 
 Confusion as to what Ops is and what it is not Heavily reliant on clear and consistent research leadership Reliant on close collaboration across the entire organisation CHALLENGES OPPORTUNITIES
  37. 37. We’re building a practice from scratch Making our own rules / shaping our own path Small community means we can get close and have impact Explore working with other Ops in the organisation Wildly underestimated 
 Proving worth with little resource
 
 Confusion as to what Ops is and what it is not Heavily reliant on clear and consistent research leadership Reliant on close collaboration across the entire organisation CHALLENGES OPPORTUNITIES
  38. 38. We’re building a practice from scratch Making our own rules / shaping our own path Small community means we can get close and have impact Explore working with other Ops in the organisation Wildly underestimated 
 Proving worth with little resource
 
 Confusion as to what Ops is and what it is not Heavily reliant on clear and consistent research leadership Reliant on close collaboration across the entire organisation CHALLENGES OPPORTUNITIES
  39. 39. We’re building a practice from scratch Making our own rules / shaping our own path Small community means we can get close and have impact Explore working with other Ops in the organisation Wildly underestimated 
 Proving worth with little resource
 
 Confusion as to what Ops is and what it is not Heavily reliant on clear and consistent research leadership Reliant on close collaboration across the entire organisation CHALLENGES OPPORTUNITIES
  40. 40. We’re building a practice from scratch Making our own rules / shaping our own path Small community means we can get close and have impact Explore working with other Ops in the organisation Wildly underestimated 
 Proving worth with little resource
 
 Confusion as to what Ops is and what it is not Heavily reliant on clear and consistent research leadership Reliant on close collaboration across the entire organisation CHALLENGES OPPORTUNITIES
  41. 41. We’re building a practice from scratch Small community means we can get close and have impact Explore working with other Ops in the organisation Wildly underestimated 
 Proving worth with little resource
 
 Confusion as to what Ops is and what it is not Heavily reliant on clear and consistent research leadership Reliant on close collaboration across the entire organisation CHALLENGES OPPORTUNITIES
  42. 42. We’re building a practice from scratch Small community means we can get close and have impact Explore working with other Ops in the organisation Wildly underestimated 
 Proving worth with little resource
 
 Confusion as to what Ops is and what it is not Heavily reliant on clear and consistent research leadership Reliant on close collaboration across the entire organisation CHALLENGES OPPORTUNITIES
  43. 43. We’re building a practice from scratch Small community means we can get close and have impact Explore working with other Ops in the organisation We centralise the research effort and costs Wildly underestimated 
 Proving worth with little resource
 
 Confusion as to what Ops is and what it is not Heavily reliant on clear and consistent research leadership Reliant on close collaboration across the entire organisation CHALLENGES OPPORTUNITIES
  44. 44. HELP YOUR RESEARCHERS FOCUS ON RESEARCH. 1 OPS PERSON PER 5 RESEARCHERS.
  45. 45. Stay connected @katetowsey Office hours with me ResearchOps Community Rosenfeld Media DesignOps Community
  46. 46. KATE TOWSEY | RESEARCH OPS MANAGER | @KATETOWSEY Thank you

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A talk I gave at Strive, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. Over the past decade, user research has matured significantly. It’s increasingly more common for large organisations to have dozens of people doing user research, whether as part of a dedicated team of researchers or other design roles. Growing team sizes and increasing organisational demand has meant that the pressures placed on people doing research have grown too. To meet demand and be efficient, impactful, compliant (and happy, lest we forget), researchers need more rigorous operational support. In 2018, through the work of the ResearchOps Community and its #WhatisResearchOps initiative, the nascent practice of ResearchOps was given shape: via a series of global workshops by researchers and for researchers, the Community explored what ResearchOps should look like and produced a framework to map its various parts. But what’s behind the theory? What does ResearchOps actually look like in the world today? And who are the people leading the way? In this talk, Kate will share insight into the state of ResearchOps today, talk about current and potential ResearchOps opportunities and challenges, and share what she thinks the future holds for this emerging practice.

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