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Research Ops at CYB: creating tailored frameworks for success

CYB’s User Research Lead Anita Chandra writes about how we developed a bespoke Research Ops model that has already helped our big name clients
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Anita Chandra

User Research Lead

11 Oct 2023

We recently posted a video on innovation about how we strive towards using new and unique ways of thinking about how to conduct research with the support of Research Operations. In this blog we will uncover a bit more detail about how Caution Your Blast Ltd (CYB) has embraced Research Ops into our research practice and how, through our experiences, we are helping our clients adopt these innovative ways of working. 

This blog is in 2 parts - in part one we’ll talk about how CYB has structured research operations and how we are helping our clients. Part 2 will introduce how we use our research findings and insights through Atomic Research (more on that later from my colleague Truly!). 

Research Ops at CYB

Research Operations, often referred to as "Research Ops," is a field that focuses on supporting and scaling the efforts of user researchers (and often product and design teams too) within an organisation. Research Ops is an emergent function; new trends, advice from industry experts and new frameworks have been made more accessible over the last few years. 

To see how Research Ops could help CYB, we conducted our own investigations and desk research, and attended workshops to discover its importance. We discovered that Research Ops is clearly immense and multi-faceted, in five key ways: 

  1. Efficiency - Research Ops helps to streamline the research process, reducing the time and effort needed to organise studies and interpret results. This allows the research team to focus more on the actual research and less on logistical issues.

  2. Scalability - as organisations grow, the need for consistent and organised research will scale up too. Research Ops provides a means to manage this growth effectively.

  3. Quality control - by standardising procedures, Research Ops ensures that research projects follow a consistent format, which in turn improves the quality and comparability of the research findings.

  4. Collaboration - Research Ops facilitates better collaboration within the research team itself and between the research team and other teams such as product and design. This leads to more integrated, accessible and impactful research.

  5. Knowledge Management - Research Ops often involves managing and organising the data collected from research studies into dedicated research repositories (databases). This makes it easier for the team to reference past research, learn from it, and apply these insights to future work - especially good when planning future research projects.

So in essence, Research Ops helps to maximise the value of user research and its impact on the organisation. With this in mind we were keen to establish some of this into our research practice.

What we did

Research Ops can be immense and slightly overwhelming when looking to start out, so as a team we reviewed how we were currently working and functioning as a research practice, facilitating a few team workshops to establish what CYB research ops could look like and what our immediate needs were. 

We initially looked to set up Research Ops at CYB to support our growing team and our need to combine skills and approach to research. Our talented researchers are from diverse backgrounds which bring us a great blend of different skill sets and experience.

We also looked to evaluate and discover the right tools, guides and templates that met our needs. Most importantly, we needed our Research Ops model to support our research philosophy - how we want to do research at CYB. (You can read more about CYB's research philosophy in this blog by our Head of Research Katie John)

Our Research Ops framework

Our tailored Research Ops framework comprises key elements that make a research practice, such as recruitment, ethics, managing data & insights, people onboarding and programme delivery management. 

Research ops 01

Fig.1 Diagram showing framework 


Research ops 02

Fig.2 Notion pages for our practice  


It is a work in progress, but focuses mainly on establishing what would meet our immediate needs, such as: 

  • creating a research space on Notion that we use for our research practice, here we provide onboarding, planning, resources and materials. 

  • standardising our tools and ways of working

  • building a research repository

  • establishing a solid way of structuring our research - adopting Atomic Research (more on that in part 2 of this blog) 

Helping other organisations

The great thing about setting up our own Research Ops is that it has given us the knowledge and experience to help our clients do the same. We are helping other organisations to combine our experience, skills and knowledge to help adopt best practices so that they can make better decisions from insights coming from a well-functioning research team.

A large Scandinavian organisation - establishing Research Operations

We helped a large Scandinavian organisation to build and scale Research Ops within their business. We helped to reset the strategic direction for the in-house UX design team where qualitative research maturity was low and they had misaligned ways of doing research. The outcome of this work meant that they could make qualitative research more accessible and a key part of the design process within product teams. We designed and implemented a set of standardised processes, methods, guides and tools that supported user researchers and UX practitioners, and developed a research framework and insights library to lay the foundations for research operations.

The UK Foreign Office - research repository and atomic research

We are currently working with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to introduce improved ways of structuring and organising our research insights from the FCDO projects we are working on.  

The research operations support more efficient and effective research outcomes in all our projects within the FCDO. Being aligned in our research approach and collaborating as a team has helped FCDO teams to get a good understanding of previous work and what decisions were made from insights. These new operational research processes have significantly improved communication within FCDO teams - there are now common research needs and goals across current projects.  

We have enjoyed being able to use our Research Ops framework to help our clients - and can't wait to do so in the future as our model continues to evolve.

Coming up soon, part 2 of this blog - how we conduct Atomic Research. Keep an eye out for that!

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