How do I make use of what other people in my organisation have done?

Being tasked with a research project can either be an exciting or daunting prospect, particularly if it falls outside your normal area of expertise. Where do you begin? Well, the planning stage is naturally the first step but, once you’ve identified your key objectives, then you need to ask yourself another, highly pertinent question:

How do I make use of what other people in my organisation have done?

Has someone else in your company pursued a similar project in the past? If so, what became of it? 

Using previous research to assist with your current project should be your first approach. After all, your company may have paid someone to spend a considerable amount of time covering ground so that you don’t need to. Don’t miss out on a free trove of information and data if you can avoid it. 

If your predecessor carried out primary research which you can revisit and expand upon, then it’s an opportunity you should not overlook. Equally, what became of their conclusions? Did they create any reports or insights which you can re-use as secondary research? It may well be that their findings allow you to expand the scope of your own work, or offer a good jumping off point for your own insights. 

If your organisation doesn’t maintain a store of research and reports, then it may well be time to create one. However, it’s important to understand the structure of this. Your primary research – data, information, annotations from online sources and so forth – can be held in a research repository which you create purely for that purpose as an information management system. Meanwhile, your reports, insights, knowledge of users and context, are stored in an insight library. By separating them, you allow others to easily access both your primary and secondary research sources and outcomes, as well as adding to them.

Making a library of useful information which can be regularly updated is a simple way of not only keeping up with sector or market trends, but will also allow the company to see data in a historical context.

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