Buy vs Build

Buy vs Build

Deciding whether to build your proprietary in-house platform entirely from the ground up or buy an off-the-shelf, ready-made solution from a third party, is not a decision to be taken lightly. Since our inception eight years ago, we’ve built, we’ve licensed, and we’ve done much deliberation in between to learn that in today’s world, buying vs. building has become an antiquated concept; we’re now in an era of what do I buy? And what do I build?

However, at the surface-level, it took less than a year to realize that the features and flexibility that we required to reach our goals, it under-delivered. The time saved at first, eventually became redundant, as it resulted in the search and eventual shift between various third-party solutions. We soon recognized that the lack of customizability was a common denominator with licensed tools that stunted our growth and ultimately lead us to build our internal solution, DataForce. 

On the flip side, what’s currently in the marketplace could be exactly what you need, with minimal added-value to your business if you were to re-create your internal bespoke solution. Once upon a time, we began to build our own suite of metrics analytics rather than license ready-made business intelligence tools, but as time went by, we soon realized that the data visualization space wasn’t where we wanted to grow; and quickly made the decision to allocate our resources elsewhere.

So how do constructing and licensing fit in with your organization’s needs for the long and short term? There are rigorous questions to be answered; what is your tolerance for lack of control? What are the opportunity costs? How do your current resources stack up? Based on our buying and building experience, we’ve put together a decision tree with the considerations and questions that we hope will steer you in the right direction for your business goals.

At RFG, we recognize the restrictions and cost-savings that come with buying, and we understand the opportunities yet time-sensitive nature of building. That’s why we’ve architected a hybrid model in DataForce. With a micro-services build back-end infrastructure, DataForce facilitates product development for agencies looking to develop proprietary and agile research products of their own, at an accelerated pace.

To learn more about DataForce Connect, Community and Collect and how you can enable flexibility, scalability and encourage productivity within your workforce, book a demo today, or get in touch with us at dataforce@researchforgood.com

Buy vs. Build: Decision Tree

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US Presidential Election Voting Habits

US Presidential Election Voting Habits

The events of 2020 have changed how we think, act, and carry out our everyday lives, from daily routines, right down to our values. So now, as voters gear up to put their thoughts to paper in less than four weeks for the US Presidential Election, we wanted to find out if this year’s monumental moments have impacted their voting habits and if so, how. 

For our latest mini-study, we asked a sample of 1261 US respondents the following three questions:  

  1. Are you planning to vote in the upcoming 2020 presidential election? 
  2. Has any of the given options majorly influenced your decision when voting in the upcoming 2020 presidential election? 
  3. How have events from 2020 (for example COVID-19, and Black Lives Matter) changed your voting habits this year?

For example, of the 1261 respondents asked, “Are you planning to vote in the upcoming 2020 presidential election?” we found that 85.9% are intending to vote. Learn how males vs females compare in their voting attitudes this year, by downloading the full report below. 

Did you know that RFG has no project minimum fees and an experienced PM team standing by that can push your projects live in under 2 hours? Get in touch below to request a quote for immediate project support.

US Presidential Election:

How have 2020 events shaped voting habits?

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Tips for Managing a Distributed WorkForce for the Long Haul

Tips for Managing a Distributed WorkForce for the Long Haul

What started as a temporary move to working from home has become the catalyst for distributed workforces. 

As the leadership team of a company that has been remote and globally distributed for more than 8 years, we have thought a lot about optimizing a situation that is new-ish for many. We’ve been where you are. At first, it feels easy, sustainable, better! Then, the novelty wears off. But there are things you can do now to ensure a distributed or hybrid workforce works for your organization long-term.

1. Welcome to a more limitless candidate pool for hiring – choose wisely!

One of the greatest opportunities for a non-location based company is the broader and more diverse talent pool you can tap into. You can find the best talent and the most capable candidate regardless of location. Use this opportunity to expand your horizons, be intentional about adding diversity to your team. It’s proven that more diverse teams have better outcomes

New hires need to fit your new remote work culture. More than ever they need to be self-reliant and self-advocates. Have a plan for socializing them throughout the company and facilitating training that involves inter-team collaboration

2. Embrace asynchronous communication.

For most companies, a move to working from home will often mean that traditional 9-to-5 working schedules become less rigid. With current school closures and additional caretaker responsibilities at home, shifting working hours has become imperative to support employees. The result is asynchronous communication. This blog post does a great job explaining asynchronous communication and the many benefits. How we Communicate at Automattic

My quick tips: 

  1. Be thoughtful about the tools you use to communicate (hint – it’s not email)
  2. Setting clear expectations reduces anxiety and empowers your team to prioritize. 

Initially, you might fear things will move slower. However, when you consider that other team members can keep the ball rolling while you’re busy (and vice versa) your time has suddenly expanded exponentially. 

3. Document and maintain.

Make sure that your company policies, resources, best practices, and expectations are well documented, kept current, and easily accessible.

“Documentation will not only aid in informing team members when they are working asynchronously; it will also create a public archive for future hires and organizational assessments.” – Jason Wingard, Forbes Contributor (Link

Likely, your policies need a thorough review if this shift has been new for you – and I’m not just talking about your employee handbook.

4. Connect Intentionally.

To a business leader driving the bottom line, casual connections may seem superfluous. However, a sense of connection (to the team, company values, etc) is so important for long term success. 

At first, you can get by with the residual community built up by being in person. But with turnover, growth, and simply the passage of time, connectedness can wane. 

Build communication channels and events to facilitate this type of interaction from distributed locations. 

      1. Be diligent about recurring 1-1s with direct reports. Consider using this opportunity to flatten your organization and connect with those who are on the front-lines as well. 
      2. Be even more communicative about the company’s vision, mission, goals, successes, and failures, opportunities, etc. Transparency builds loyalty and a culture of open communication.
      3. Create space for non-work related conversations. Our twice-weekly 30-minute “coffee chats” via Zoom successfully helped our team connect as people.  Playing online games or trivia are a great way to let loose and facilitate teamwork. Create channels in your instant messaging platform for casual conversations or sharing of funny cat videos. Actively encourage participation.

5. The technology you use to facilitate business processes matters more now.

The technology platforms you use to facilitate the work is the glue that holds your organization together. Common challenges include:

      1. Platform overload – The typical mid-market company uses 185 different apps – according to the 2020 Saas Trends report. That is lot to manage and rife with room for information to fall through the cracks. 
      2. Data Silos: With all those different tools, platforms, spreadsheets and communication tools, your company data is in lots of different places, but not together. 
      3. Manual Processes: How does your sales team transfer projects to operations? Who gets information to finance for billing? Is that a manual process at risk for errors and omissions?For these reasons and more, we built an internal platform that would manage our globally distributed team and integrate communications and consolidate data. It services hundreds of clients, automates a vast sample sourcing ecosystem and optimizes delivery on thousands of projects per day. 

        The results have been significant. We’ve scaled our operation, delivering for more clients, faster, without the expense of adding headcount. Due to the flexibility of the system, architected on a microservices infrastructure, we are prepared and ready for future changes and can remain nimble as we grow. If you’re contemplating the buy vs. build decision for bringing additional technology into your research tech stack, talk to us first.

        We’ve been there, we’ve built, and our flexible DataForce platform modules are being used by other industry businesses to add flexibility, innovation, and scale to their own teams and products.

        We’re not in the new normal yet, we won’t be for a while. As researchers, we’re in the privileged position of shaping that new normal in so many ways. Our goal at Research For Good is to enable human understanding so we can reach a better new normal. 

Want to find out how DataForce can enable an engaged, and efficient distributed team?

COVID-19 Collaboration

COVID-19 Collaboration

COVID-19 has taken us in different directions than we ever would have anticipated, and for a significant amount, that includes their employment status. The reality has resulted in most of us seeing first-hand friends’ or family’s jobs become a casualty to the pandemic both outside and within the MR space. So, to highlight the skills and expertise of those who found themselves out of work, RFG made a call-out to the industry last month. 

As part of a collaboration project, we sought to partner with researchers to create a report of their choice, on the impacts of COVID-19. Powered by our modular data acquisition platform, DataForce, and with the ability to collect the data with ease and speed through RFG’s on-demand sample tool, we supplied 1,000 U.S. respondents to facilitate their studies on: 

Joining RFG’s Co-Founder and COO, Baillie Buchanan, each of our partners, Aman Khalid, Javier Vesga, and Viraj Joshi, gave a quick introduction to their study and a summary of their findings that you can watch below, alongside their full report with key takeaways and recommendations going forward. 

Want to learn more about DataForce, or RFG's global reach?

A Force for Human Understanding

A Force for Human Understanding

Do you understand the new consumer today? Can you predict what humans will do, value, think, say, demand, and fight for tomorrow?

We’re in the new now. We’ve collectively agreed that we’re not going back. We’re also not in the new-normal yet. Nothing is normal yet. A recession is here. Businesses may be opening, but their customers have not yet fully formed their new expectations. So much change, catalyzed in such a singular point in time, will take time (and data) to fully understand. 

That’s why, even amongst all the current chaos and uncertainty, we know it is the right time to bring our DataForce platform to market. To foster growth, innovation, understanding, compassion, empathy, diversity, and unity. Brands and those who support them through research need insights and data to form their go-forward decisions. 

We know that data collection today is fraught. Systems and processes are opaque, leading to a lack of trust and misunderstanding. Tools are built on outdated technology making them cumbersome, manual, and inflexible. Data quality, costs, and consumer participation are unstable. At Research For Good, we see these issues, and we are driven to solve them. We envision a future where human understanding is integrated, harmonious, infinitely scalable, and holistic.

To get there, we built DataForce, a modular research ecosystem. DataForce Connect, DataForce Collect, and DataForce Community provide global businesses with an infinitely scalable, integrated suite of data platforms-as-a-service (PaaS). Used alone or together, each drives drive efficiency, flexibility, and the ability to innovate at a rate outpacing today’s development cycles. PaaS structure empowers agencies to build the research methodologies and products that brands are asking for. Our platform takes care of the back-end infrastructure and provides the API-driven flexibility and customization to build innovative and agile research products on top, without the technical overhead of starting from scratch.

Our purpose-built system has modules to support active & passive data collection (DataForce Collect), online communities & panels (DataForce Community), and the data fieldwork process from bid to billing (DataForce Connect). We enable today’s research and insights professionals to bring their ResearchTech stacks into the new, now. 

To be clear, we do not know what the answers are or what the future holds. What we do know is that we want to be part of the solution in improving our collective path forward, by enabling human understanding through technology. DataForce is future-forward and intelligently architected to empower insights professionals to do their very best work. In doing so, we can help businesses, leaders, and brands understand people better than ever before, and shape for all of us a better future. 

Want to find out how DataForce can enable your future goals? 

RFG Announces DataForce

RFG Announces DataForce

RFG is proud to announce the launch of DataForce, a modular suite of research platforms to enable innovative active data acquisition, sample and fieldwork management, and research platform automation. Powered by an elegant microservices infrastructure DataForce’s modules DataForce Connect, DataForce Collect, and DataForce Community offer solutions for the entire research operations lifecycle. Clients can now benefit from our scalable platform-as-a-service (PaaS) to enable their own growth, research product development, and overall operational efficiency.

Below is the full text of the announcement release. To get a first-look at DataForce in action, please contact us at dataforce@researchforgood.com

Research For Good Announces DataForce: Suite of Tools Includes Fully-Automated Respondent Ecosystem and Revolutionary Sampling Automation

SEATTLE, Wash — Today, Research For Good (RFG) announced the launch of DataForce, a suite of data acquisition and research tools built to facilitate innovative sample and fieldwork management. DataForce Connect, DataForce Collect, and DataForce Community will provide users with a modular suite of purpose-built tools to enable respondent acquisition, community management, automation of sample supply, and demand, as well as optimize the full research project lifecycle from bid to billing. 

“Today’s research business leader needs to build resiliency into their business. Resiliency facilitated by the flexibility to drive growth and foster innovation,” RFG COO Baillie Buchanan said. “DataForce enables our clients to optimize the efficiency of their research operations, maximize the ROI of their communities, and easily build and integrate new research tech as their client’s needs evolve.” 

Unique in the Market Research industry tech stack, DataForce’s modules are available as both a suite of off-the-shelf, Software as a Service (SaaS), or as API driven Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings. DataForce as a PaaS offers a micro-services built back-end infrastructure to facilitate product development for agencies looking to build proprietary and agile research products of their own. 

DataForce Connect innovations include a fully-automated respondent ecosystem, predictive feasibility across disparate sampling methodologies, and end-to-end workflow optimization. 

DataForce Community is a full-featured community management platform built on an elegant and flexible back-end to remove limitations often seen in currently available options. Included is a completely reimagined system for survey invitations and matching via an automated sampling system that eliminates respondent-survey mismatch and maximizing the contribution of every participant. 

“Automated Sampling grew from a specific client concern about participant-to-survey matching and led to a revolution in panel participation efficiency,” Buchanan said. “Together with our customers, we aim to apply these same development principles across a myriad of today’s data acquisition headaches.”

DataForce Collect enables active data acquisition; boasting unlimited question structures, device type capabilities, and adaptability to various engagement methodologies. An elegant library system minimizes programming time and enables an array of improvements to the survey experience. For those looking to accelerate time to market for proprietary research product development, DataForce Collect’s future-focused architecture is licensable as a development foundation.

Research For Good launched in 2012 and provides project management, survey fieldwork, and research technology. The company has been building proprietary technology since 2013 in order to facilitate their own growth and vision for active data acquisition. DataForce RFG enables clients to leverage proven software development expertise and experience in order to accelerate their own efficiency, innovation, and time to market.

About Research For Good

Research For Good enables human understanding through DataForce, our future-forward active data acquisition platform. In addition, RFG’s experienced team provides respondents and fieldwork solutions using the DataForce platform. Efficient, flexible, modular, and built on today’s most advanced technology, DataForce enables insights at speed and scale. Mission-driven at heart, RFG makes a corporate donation to charity for every survey completed in DataForce.