If you are an in-house UX strategist or product manager bringing in an external UX research agency, you might be wondering how to get the most from the collaboration. We’ve found that companies don’t always know what to expect, what to request from a UX consultancy, or how to socialize the research within the company, and therefore might not be prepared to get the best results. In this article, we provide tips on how to approach an external UX research team so you can maximize the impact of their services.
1. Save time on your calendar to participate in research sessions
Scanning through pages of research findings reported by the UX team will provide answers to research questions, but you’ll miss the opportunity to build empathy with your customers. By getting involved in the research and attending debrief sessions you will witness the richness of the emotional and contextual data firsthand.
In lab or in the field, in rain or shine, having many people from a company’s side involved in the research and analysis has proven to help with a smoother knowledge transfer and internalization of the research within cross-functional teams. Furthermore, the people on the company’s side who actively engage in research and debrief sessions become strong customer advocates within their company. They also tend to facilitate the handover of research and integration of the innovative ideas that come from it.
2. Supply your UX team with background information
There are many reasons why companies might be unwilling to share background information with their external UX team. You might want to get a fresh perspective on the issue, or you might have restrictions on sharing sensitive company information. However, supplying the UX team with the right amount of information and insights will make the research far more effective.
Below are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding on how much background information to share with the UX team:
- What information would be enough to ensure that the UX team will build on the existing knowledge and not repeat what is already known?
- What are the most important problems your company is trying to solve?
- What would a new internal team member need to quickly learn about the offering?
Then, think about the most efficient way to communicate the background information. A one-thousand page product manual might not be the best choice. We’ve found that one smart person on the company’s side, giving a high-level outline to the UX team, is usually enough.
3. Decide on the right deliverables to request from the agency
Research deliverables and artifacts requested from the UX agency is a strategic communication tool that your company will use to distribute research insights within the organization when the project is over, and thus must be chosen carefully.
Deciding on the right deliverables and artifacts depends on three sets of