The need for high quality data is well established, and the ubiquity of tips and tricks to ensure its collection is noted in the blogosphere. True global expertise, however, is a rarity in the industry and is instrumental in collection of the high quality data we’re all striving for.
Vetting vendors is key. Ideal vendors should first and foremost have applicable experience in the countries/regions where the research is being conducted. They should utilize the specific methodology and have conducted multiple projects in the area. Ideally, they should have experience with the target or a similar target in the country or region.
Whether in-house or via partners, a potential vendor should have on-the-ground/native presence in the area to ensure consistency and cultural sensitivity of the research. If they do utilize partners, they should have a track record with the partner. It’s easy to find a field agency in any given country, but if you’ve never worked in the area or with the specific agency, there’s less confidence the project will be completed per the specifications and the potential for error could be higher.
Look for a vendor who can offer a complete solution in all the areas in which the research will be conducted and in terms of services (translation, programming, fieldwork, one-stop shop, etc.). Having the research managed by a single source will help the project flow more smoothly, reduce errors, and increase consistency across the project.
Additionally, the main point of contact or project manager on the vendor side should have experience with both the methodology used and the region where the project is being conducted. Project management can make or break a project. With international projects (especially multi-national projects), there are a lot of moving parts. The success of your project depends on having someone with experience at the helm.
So how do you ensure that potential vendors have all of these qualities? Here are some important questions to ask:
- Are they able to offer consultation on the methodology / survey instrument to ensure you will reach the right people and the questions appropriate for the region?
- In what regions or countries do they conduct research?
- Do they use partners or do they have in-house capabilities in the area in question?
- What services do they offer for that area-translations, programming, sampling, recruiting, moderation, etc.?
- How many projects have they conducted in the region/country you are interested in?
- What types of methodologies have they utilized in that area?
- What types of targets have they interviewed there?
- Do they have experience with your specific target (if applicable) in that region (or in general)?
- Are they familiar with the culture or conventions in the specific country?
We’re all after high quality data collection. Vetting vendors through the lens of global expertise is crucial in this pursuit. Happy hunting!