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The UXR Bible for All Things ReOps
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The UXR Bible for All Things ReOps

The UXR Bible for All Things ReOps

Theertha Raj
May 16 2024

Whenever you hear anything “Ops”, you know that they’re definitely sorting things out.

DevOps, DesignOps or ResearchOps— those are the Capricorns of the organization.

Maybe that didn’t make complete sense to you. The next definition will.

The ReOps community was set up to support researchers in developing this function in 2018. This is how they defined ResearchOps.

“ResearchOps is the people, 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 organization.”

From participant recruitment to budget management, from maintaining the research repository to advocating for users, ResearchOps is the glue that holds the research process together. ReOps makes sure that the hard-earned research insights don't get lost in the abyss of forgotten PowerPoint decks.

Organizations high on UXR maturity may have a dedicated ResearchOps function with specialists in place, to streamline workflow and communications, manage tooling and make life just easier for researchers generally.

Not every organization has the maturity or budget to hire a dedicated ReOps professional, but every org can benefit from investing in ResearchOps capabilities. If you’re working with a smaller budget/team size, you can DIY by splitting the capabilities among researchers in your organization (psst, keep reading to know how!).

This article will cover the 6 key focus areas of Research Ops, with a deep dive including the best resources, practices, tips and tricks of the trade.

Why Invest in ResearchOps?

Let’s be honest, none of this is easy work, and this article is a tome. You must be wondering, “Does my organization really need ResearchOps?”

ResearchOps makes the difference between struggling to manage research projects, and creating a seamless workflow for anyone in the organization needing to conduct research.

It also does the following:

  • Standardize research practices and streamlines processes, reducing the time researchers spend on administrative tasks and allowing them to focus on their core work
  • Foster better collaboration between researchers, designers, product managers, and other stakeholders, and helps UXRs communicate findings better
  • Provide the infrastructure needed to manage and scale research efforts without compromising on quality

6 Key Focus Areas of ResearchOps

Whenever folks hear about ResearchOps, they assume that it is to do with managing research participants— screener surveys, recruiting and scheduling emails. Yes, participant management is a big part of the job (and a major time sink for researchers otherwise), but ResearchOps is so much more. The full scope of a UX research team’s operational needs goes way beyond just wrangling participants!

The standard ResearchOps model (developed by Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen of NN/g) comes down to 6 focus areas:

  1. Participant recruitment & management
  2. Tooling
  3. Streamlining research workflow
  4. Knowledge management
  5. Research advocacy & sharing findings with stakeholders
  6. Governance & security

You use this bible to build your overall ReOps practice, or if you’re building capacity in a specific area, jump straight to the relevant resources. Go ahead and bookmark it to save yourself days of running around trying to get things in order. 🔖

For each section, we’ll also leave you with a key resource or two to help you solve the most-common problems in that focus area. Thank us later.

1. Participant recruiting & management

Any researcher will tell you this– recruiting participants is the most tedious, time-consuming and annoying part of their job.

Why? It’s complicated to coordinate a study with huge groups of strangers who usually don’t have any incentive to comply, other than gift cards or Amazon vouchers. Schedules are unpredictable, people are irritable, and you can spend a week setting up a whole panel and have it all fall apart at the last minute.

Under participant management, ResearchOps includes:

  • Creating a database of potential research participants (users or non-users) with the help of recruiting platforms, agencies etc..
  • Shortlisting, screening and finalizing the right participants for a project.
  • Communicating, scheduling tests/interviews, and sending reminders to participants about the study.
  • Approving and distributing incentives fairly to participants, usually based on their expertise and time invested.

But before we jump into the nitty gritty, your recruitment process depends on the answer to one question first: does the study require existing customers, or non-users? (or both!)

Determine your target audience

The first step in any research study—determine your target audience. What is the research trying to uncover? Who would be most qualified to help with it—existing product users or fresh eyes? This decision will shape the recruitment strategy and the ResearchOps activities involved.

If the research study is to do with updates for an existing product, or feedback for advanced features that only users can access, you need to tap into your existing customer base. You need folks who’ll know the product inside out, and give you feedback based on their experience.

If the project needs a fresh perspective or needs to explore new customer groups, non-users are ideal. They can give researchers unbiased feedback, and bring in insights about user preferences and needs that your customers might not be able to give.

Depending on where they are in the company / product development cycle, UX Research teams tend to stick to one audience to start with.

Already have a well-established product you need to optimize and polish? Most research tends to be with existing customers.

Launching a new product or in a new market? Most of your research will be with non-customers.

How to recruit non-users

If you need to recruit participants who are not your customers, you'll need to start with getting access to a non-user participant panel. There are 3 routes to go about this:

  1. Recruiting platforms: You can leverage paid user panels like UserInterviews,, Askable, or to access a diverse pool of pre-screened participants. These platforms typically offer targeted screening, flexible scheduling, and incentive management services. Consider the strengths and limitations of each platform based on your specific needs (e.g., global reach, project management support).
  2. Recruitment agencies: You can reach out to recruitment agencies, especially if you're looking for niche audiences or specialized expertise. Recruiting agencies can help you find and engage with participants who meet your specific criteria, although there usually is a few weeks ramp up time to get your calls scheduled.
  3. Find participants yourself: If you're on a budget or need to reach a very specific audience, you can recruit non-users yourself by targeting online communities, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, industry events or running ads! Linkedin outreach is also a great option, as you can vet professionals on fitting your participant profiles, and send personalized messages to explain why you need them, and the incentives offered.

Not sure how to execute on these solutions? We have built a detailed guide on recruiting non-users with panel options, pros and cons, linkedin outreach messages for a DIY approach, and more.

Key resources for step–by–step guidance: 

How to recruit existing users

If you've decided to recruit your own customers, the process can get a little bit more complicated. Ironic, I know.

The first step is to define your target user audience.
Ask yourself:

  • Do you need a general sample of your users, or a specific segment?
  • If you need a specific segment, how will you define it? Consider the following options:some text
    • Demographic or industry segment (e.g., real estate agents)
    • Feedback-based segment (users who requested a specific feature)
    • Product usage-based segment (users who actively use a particular feature)

Next, make an outreach list.

Based on your target audience, you'll need to access company data and extract a list of user emails that correspond to the desired traits. 

  • General users: Look at the database of all your users, typically found in your product analytics tool or customer database.
  • Demographic or industry segment: Check your CRM or database for relevant user information, or use product usage data to define the segment.
  • Feedback-based segment: Look at customer support data, feedback collection tools, or consult your customer success or sales team.
  • Product usage-based segment: Use your product analytics tool (usually MixPanel or Amplitude) or database to identify users who have engaged with specific features.

Once you’ve identified who you need to reach, you can decide which channel is best to reach them. Most research teams reach out to their users either through in-product recruiting, email outreach or cold calling

  • In-product recruiting means you’re pinging folks while they’re on your webpage or product, asking them to participate in a study. If you have a very large pool of daily users to tap into, this can be a great way to recruit folks based on an action they take (e.g., reach out to users if they try the new feature). You can use existing in-app survey / support tools like Intercom or Appcues your team already has, or invest in a dedicated recruiting solution like Ethnio.
  • Email outreach is a more traditional approach to reaching your audience and better suited for B2B audiences or users who don’t spend a lot of time on your product. Usually your organization already has a CRM like Hubspot, but if you have the budget you can splurge on a dedicated outreach tool like Rally to help automate outreach steps.
  • Cold calling customers is a less frequently used approach but relevant for certain audiences who aren’t available on their computers (e.g., truck drivers) or are culturally more accepting of it (e.g., audiences in India). If you’re leaning towards this method, approach with caution! There’s a chance you could end up annoying customers if you don’t have a well-oiled conversation script.

Ready to get in-house recruiting set up? Our detailed guide on recruiting your own customers will give you outreach templates, incentive options, and all the tips & tricks to fill your calendar with calls!

Key resources for step–by–step guidance:

2. Tooling

Good UX research takes a village and some very specialized tools. From survey software and digital whiteboards to research repositories and transcription software, researchers often need a lot of product support in their workflow.

ResearchOps manages research tooling in the following ways:

  • Identifying the team’s research requirements and the tools needed—for note-taking, collaboration, or analysis.
  • Researching and evaluating various tool options based on factors like functionality, cost, and how smoothly it can fit into the existing research workflow (the last one is key!).
  • Overseeing the procurement of tool subscriptions or licenses, and managing the associated budgets to make sure it’s cost-effective, with proper resource allocation.
  • Ensuring tools procured meet all compliance and internal legal requirements (more of this in the Governance section below).
  • Managing access to these tools for researchers and non-researchers, as well as the onboarding and training processes.

Determine research team’s needs

Before getting into evaluating your organization’s research toolstack, you need to have a clear understanding of what the team’s research is about. 

Get answers to the below questions based on internal alignment meetings before evaluating any tools. Think of it as user research for your user research tool stack!

Question #1: What’s the biggest pain point the team is facing?

If your team is wasting too much time emailing customers for recruitment, versus struggling to analyze interviews quickly enough to meet internal needs, the solution is going to look very different. Take the time to speak to everyone conducting research (Researchers, PMs, Designers) as well as key stakeholders who use your research insights.

What’s working for them? Where are things breaking?

Getting a clear understanding upfront will help you optimize your UXR toolkit for the best outcomes for your team.

You may get tempted to skip over this step—many teams do. But this comes with some pretty dire consequences. In fact, 80% of research repositories fail because they’re brought on too early or with unrealistic expectations.

Question #2: What kind of budgets do we realistically have access to?

While you may know where research processes hurt, budgets will help you decide which pain points you can afford to fix.

Research tooling can cost anywhere from $0 (excel sheets, miro boards, existing email CRMs), to tens of thousands of dollars (*cough*UserTesting*cough*). Of course, higher budgets come with faster timelines, more democratization, and better optimization of your teams’ time. But just how much can you afford to spend is a key question to answer upfront.

Question #3: What is the team’s natural workflow?

This is especially important for any tools you expect your team to work in
Does the team like to analyze interviews with their notes? Review transcripts? Tag data or not?

Often every researcher, designer, or PM on your team will come with a different preference. That’s fine—make sure any analysis tool you purchase makes rooms for their preferred analysis methods. If you don’t, they most likely will not use the product!

Related to this is the usability of a product. Is your team able to pick up and use research tooling for recruiting, unmoderated testing, or analysis on their own? Or are they deeply frustrated by the UX of a recruitment platform and will be complaining to you for the rest of the year?

Question #4: What are our future goals?

Sometimes you can’t achieve a goal without tooling. Unmoderated testing or running surveys is a key example.

If that’s something your team is ramping up for—are you prepared to support them?

By answering these questions, you get a better idea of what research tools are essential. 

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind in this process:

  • Don’t automatically opt for the obvious and easy choice; explore niche options with custom solutions, they might fit your team’s needs better.
  • If your team has limited resources and bandwidth, think outside the box. Maybe an existing tool could do the trick, like Google Forms for surveys.
  • If your organization is also working on democratizing research, keep in mind that non-researchers will also need access to the same toolstack. Make sure that it’s usable for everyone involved.

Evaluate and purchase tools

Once you know what your team needs, how do you pick the right tools?

Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Necessity: If you’re considering purchasing a costly survey tool for example, does your team really do enough large-scale surveys to justify purchasing all its capabilities? Does your team really need a dedicated tool for this stage of the workflow, or can it be DIY-ed using the existing tool stack?
  • Ease of use: Your team might be reluctant to try a completely alien platform. Is the tool making it easier for them by being intuitive to use? One good way to think about it: is the value the tool offers so high that the team will be tempted to use it on their own? 
  • Features: Does the tool offer all the features your team needs, better than its competitors? If you’re looking for an analysis tool for instance, is there a storage limit? Can you create insights/notes on the go? Does it offer quality transcription? Do you have to tag data to find it later?
  • Integration: Does the new tool integrate well with the existing workflow and stack of tools?
  • Collaboration: Will the tool make collaboration easier within and across teams? Is it easy to import/export data and insights even if a team member hasn’t set up an account?
  • Cost: Does the tool’s usage justify the cost? Will it be too much of a burden on the team’s pockets, and could it be used elsewhere?
  • Privacy: Is it compliant with all the internal and external legal requirements? Is data encrypted? Is participant data easily erasable?
  • Management: This one is particularly important for research repositories. Just how much manual time and effort will you and your team have to put in to make the repository meet your needs? Is this amount of effort reasonable to expect? Is it worth it?

Here are a few examples of tools UX researchers prioritize in 2024:

  • Recruiting participants - User Interviews, Respondent
  • Conducting surveys - Qualtrics, Survey Monkey, Google Forms
  • Unmoderated research - Maze, Userberry
  • Research repository & data analysis -  Looppanel, Dovetail
  • Digital whiteboard - Figjam, Miro 
Key resources for step–by–step guidance:

Manage subscriptions and onboarding

The job isn’t done with just purchasing a tool stack. If you’re running ResearchOps, you also need to help with managing subscriptions, and making room for it in the budget. You’ll have to make sure that the product continues to fit the team’s needs and budget as the organization evolves.

Even if the newly-appointed tools might make a researcher’s life 5x easier, it’s often on ResearchOps to advocate for using the product, and basically entice the team into integrating it into their workflows. Onboarding sessions that explain all the product’s benefits and usability can help immensely with this.

Bringing down the gavel and forcing teams to adopt a tool usually won’t work. They need to really see and believe that it benefits them.

3. Streamlining research workflow

ResearchOps plays a pivotal role in making sure research operations are streamlined, and that the workflow is as efficient as can be. This is especially important for scaling research teams, or organizations that are evolving their research capabilities.

A big part of this involves standardizing processes, with the help of guidelines and templates. This way, everyone’s on the same page and using the same playbook. The research will be efficient, consistent and of high quality. If everyone’s taking notes using the same template on Miro for example, it’s easier to find insights and put together reports for stakeholders.

Create a research playbook

A lot of ReOps functions in larger organizations have a comprehensive “playbook” or database in place, which outlines various research methods, best practices, and guidelines. It’s a great resource while onboarding new team members, and educating them on the official research workflow.

These templates and tools also help optimize the team's workflow for productivity, so everyone isn’t re-making the same discussion guides or note-taking grids.

Ideally you want this playbook to be available where your entire team (that does research) lives. If your research is democratized, make sure these resources are available where the broader team lives (e.g., Confluence or Google Drive).

Build a repository

The easiest way to make sure your team’s research is running as efficiently as possible? Build a centralized repository for knowledge management. By establishing protocols for organizing, and storing research data, ResearchOps can make access and reuse of old research a lot easier. But more on that in the next section on Knowledge Management.

Train and empower researchers

Your research team might be the best in the biz, but there are always opportunities for learning and development, be it with new tools, or the latest methodologies.

ResearchOps is also responsible for onboarding new researchers, training the existing team and fostering a user-centered mindset throughout. It’s on ReOps to ensure the team’s fully equipped to handle the research tasks.

In organizations running democratized research, ResearchOps can be responsible for training non-researchers too. They can use formalized training curricula and start by exposing non-researchers to user-centered approaches and activities. By understanding each team’s priorities better, ReOps can also help non-researchers incorporate basic research practices into their work when researchers are unavailable, promoting a more research-driven culture.

Align cross-functional teams

Effective research doesn’t happen in silos! It needs constant collaboration and alignment across teams and stakeholders. ResearchOps plays a crucial role in fostering such an environment.

 By establishing clear communication channels and facilitating regular check-ins, ResearchOps can ensure that research efforts are aligned with organizational priorities and stakeholder needs. These can also work for knowledge sharing among researchers— to share insights, best practices, and lessons learned.

You can start with a simple monthly lunch-and-learn that your data science and research teams are invited to. Or perhaps a slack channel for insights sharing between customer support and research.

User insights live across the organization and ReOps can play a crucial role in cross-pollinating and evangelizing these.

Key resources for step–by–step guidance:

4. Knowledge management

As a research team grows and the number of studies pile up, knowledge management becomes a crucial priority. This is something ResearchOps can take charge of!

When do you need a research repository?

If your team has done enough research for projects to stack up and slowly start taking over  storage space, it’s time to consider centralizing data. If researchers find themselves grappling with locating and repurposing existing data, a centralized repository can streamline the process.

But who is the audience for your repository?
It depends. 

If researchers are struggling to find data across PPTs, notes, Miro boards, and spending days answering questions like “What do you know about integrations?”, solve for your internal research team.

If broader stakeholders are seeking self-service access (searching through Miro boards or excel sheets for data), you probably need an external-facing repository for your broader stakeholders to poke around and answer their own questions.

Warning: just because you centralize your data in one place, your broader team will not automatically start searching for insights. Unless you see the signs that they’re looking for answers themselves (instead of coming to you), don’t expect a repository to become a self-serve tool on day 1!

The benefits of a centralized repository

A well-managed research repository offers several benefits:

  • It consolidates research data, transcripts, recordings, and insights in a single location, simplifying access and retrieval.
  • Stakeholders across the organization can easily explore research findings, fostering collaboration and informed decision-making.
  • By avoiding redundant research and enabling quick access to existing data, repositories improve productivity and efficiency by a ton.

However, implementing a successful research repository is not without its challenges. According to industry reports, a staggering 80% of research repositories fail!

Common pitfalls in setting up a knowledge management system

We did our research on how most organizations set up repositories, and end up not effectively using them. Here’s what helps to avoid the common pitfalls:

  • Excessive manual tagging, taxonomy management, and data organization can become resource-intensive burdens. Opt for tools that automate these processes or require minimal manual intervention.
  • Make sure the repository addresses real pain points within your organization. Does your team actually need one? Implementing a repository without a clear need or buy-in from stakeholders is a recipe for failure.
  • For optimal adoption, the repository should seamlessly integrate with your team's existing workflows and tools, such as Confluence, Jira, or Notion.
  • Researchers should be able to analyze data efficiently within the repository, without the need for constant context-switching to external tools.

Considering implementing a research repository? Go through the below links first 👇

Key resources for step–by–step guidance:

5. Research advocacy & sharing findings with stakeholders

ResearchOps often acts as an intermediary between researchers and the rest of the organization, along with being advocates for UXRs value to business. This part is crucial for facilitating data-driven decision-making and fostering a research-driven culture within the organization.

Here’s what research advocacy looks like in ResearchOps:

  • Creating case studies that highlight the positive impact of properly applied research findings on key company metrics and KPIs. These real-world examples can serve as powerful advocacy tools.
  • Implementing a regular process for disseminating insights, success stories, and research highlights to the entire organization. This can be lunch-and-learn sessions, email newsletters, or visually engaging posters and presentations.

Share research insights effectively

A big part of advocacy is making sure that the right insights reach the right stakeholders. 

You want to make sure your team’s hard work is visible, and has a real impact.

Here are some things to keep in mind while communicating research findings to stakeholders.

  • Understand your audience: Get to know the different groups you're communicating with. What are their priorities and pain points? Tailor your messaging and presentation style to resonate with them. Remember, you don’t need to start with everyone—it’s okay to choose key stakeholders who influence the future of UXR first.

You can also use our Stakeholder Personas template to map them out using the Power-Interest matrix. For more insights on how, read the guide here.

  • Choose the right communication channels: Different strokes for different folks! Some stakeholders might prefer formal presentations, while others respond better to casual lunch-and-learns or visually appealing infographics. Pick the right format for your audience. Assume that senior stakeholders have 30 seconds to review your work—an executive summary of 1 minute reel is enough. 
  • Highlight key insights: Distill your findings into clear, impactful key insights that speak to your audience's priorities. These should be the stars of your show.
  • Use storytelling: Present your insights as a narrative, using storytelling techniques to engage your audience and make your points more memorable and relatable.
  • Encourage active participation: Don't just talk to your audience. Engage them through discussions, Q&A sessions, or collaborative exercises to facilitate a deeper understanding of your findings and their implications.
  • Solicit feedback and iterate: Ask for feedback on how clear and effective your communication efforts are. Use this feedback to continuously improve your strategies.
  • Connect insights to business objectives: Explicitly tie your research findings and insights to the organization's overarching goals, demonstrating the direct impact and relevance of your work.
  • Offer concrete recommendations: Based on your insights, provide specific, actionable recommendations that stakeholders can implement to address user needs, pain points, or opportunities for improvement.
  • Highlight success stories: Share real-world examples and case studies that illustrate the positive impact of implementing research-driven recommendations, further validating the value of your work.

TLDR: it’s a good idea to shout about the impact of your UXR team’s work from the rooftops! Keep talking about how you saved costs, shortened product timelines, helped revenue grow.

Key resources for step–by–step guidance:

6. Governance

Governance is a critical focus area for ResearchOps professionals, as it ensures that research studies involving participants are conducted ethically and in compliance with relevant regulations. After all, you're dealing with people's personal information, so it's crucial to handle it responsibly.

When it comes to governance, ResearchOps plays a key role in:

  • Staying compliant: ResearchOps stays up-to-date with data privacy laws (GDPR, CCPA, and the like) and ensures that your tools and processes adhere to these regulations. They're the guardians of compliance, making sure your research practices are always on the right side of the law. For tools that use AI, make sure they don’t use your data to train base models! 
  • Establishing ethical processes: ResearchOps professionals work on creating processes and communication materials that uphold ethical standards. Think consent forms that are transparent and easy to understand, NDAs etc..
  • Managing participant data: They ensure that any personally identifiable information (PII) collected during research, such as names, birthdates, or email addresses, is stored, maintained, and disposed of properly and securely, following all legal and ethical guidelines.
  • Secure Platforms for PII: Governance also extends to the toolstack that ResearchOps teams are responsible for managing. They need to prioritize secure applications for managing participant data like contact information, demographics, and consent forms. This way, sensitive information is protected at all times.


Whew, that was a ton of information to take in.

But now you know the true scope of what ResearchOps encompasses! From dealing with participant recruiting nightmares, to implementing tools that actually make your life easier, to advocating for research and making sure those hard-earned insights don't get lost in the shuffle —-running ResearchOps can make UX research so much easier, on all fronts.

Whether you have a dedicated ResearchOps team or are a solo researcher trying to DIY it, focusing on those 6 key areas we covered—participant management, tooling, streamlining workflow, knowledge management, stakeholder communication, and governance.

Set up templates, build that dream repository, get buy-in by shouting about your wins from the rooftops!

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