Research Ops as a UXR Team of One
How to build an efficient Research Ops practice as a UXR team of 1. Get tips for managing time and using tools to optimize your processes.
As a solo researcher, you’re doing research and ops. You’re wearing multiple 🧢 — and they aren’t small. While some companies have a person dedicated to Research Ops, for teams of one, it’s all you.
While you’re trying to build and refine the research function, you’re also conducting research, evangelizing research, AND managing participants and recruitment (which can take hours of work). 🥴
So, how does Research Ops fit into your role as a solo researcher?
Painfully. 🤣 It’s likely time-consuming, inefficient, and keeping you from doing what you love — actual research!
Akshay Verma, who was the founding researcher at Gong, said he “was going a little bit crazy,” when he was the only researcher juggling Research Ops alongside his normal UXR responsibilities.
Despite being a LOT of work, Research Ops is extremely important to your User Research practice. “Research Ops is an ongoing priority. It matters as much as actually completing the research," said Lindsay Boylan in an AMA.
You can't ignore Research Ops, but as a team of one, it shouldn't be this painful and it shouldn't drive you crazy. Let's dive into some ways you can identify your pain points, address them, and create Research Ops processes that thrive.
How to incorporate Research Ops into your solo User Research practice
First things first. Put on your beloved Researcher 🧢 and research your pain points. Crystal Kubitsky shared in a recent webinar that it’s important to identify your pain points and then choose “the one that sets you up for success to tackle the next thing.” She then identified 5 ways you can solve these pain points:
- Automation - What doesn’t require manual effort and can happen without your attention?
- Delegation - What are tasks that other people in your org can do for you?
- Templatization - What’s something repeatable that you can standardize into a template? (👉 🎁 Here are two great templates for kicking off research and understanding ReOps responsibilities!)
- Optimization - How can you make this faster?
- Collaboration - Is there someone else here that’s doing something similar who could help you?
This may sound like a lot. But luckily, picking the right tool can ease the process of dealing with these pain points and make Research Ops as a solo researcher take less of your time.
Picking the right tool
“I was spending literally half a day just copying and pasting emails because I didn’t have a more sophisticated tool,” Akshay said. “Until I learned about Rally.” Rally’s User Research CRM provided Akshay with one place to manage participants and recruitment in an automated, flexible, and optimized way.
Within Rally, you can
- automate emails 🔂
- create templates for emails, screeners, and studies 📄
- collaborate with non-researchers in a way that is ethical and compliant 🤝
- optimize your participant management and recruitment by managing emails, consent forms, incentives, scheduling, and more all in one place 🔋
Before adopting Rally, Krista Lipps, the UX Research Lead at Doximity, was spending tons of time handling both Research Ops and User Research. Though she was doing an incredible job juggling many tasks, tools, and responsibilities, it wasn't sustainable. Krista was considering hiring a Junior Researcher, but after using Rally, she found she could continue thriving as a UXR team of 1.
Advice from Akshay & Krista
During his time as the only researcher, Akshay experienced both highs and lows. One thing he loved about being a solo researcher was the opportunity to be curious and experiment. “You have a lot more of a runway to try things out and see what works and what doesn’t.”
Here’s some advice Akshay shared at his AMA in November for User Research teams of one:
📌 Since you don’t have other researchers to lean on, lean on people in your company.
📌 Don’t be afraid to push back and say no.
📌 Protect your time and energy.
📌 Be kind to your future self by establishing operations as early as possible.
📌 The right tool can make all the difference — try Rally today.