Flexibility is the name of the game: Ensuring the research portal is an effective tool for internal clients and the research team

It has only been in more recent years that individuals have been able to access research insights across a global organization. Prior to this, the technology simply did not exist. Research tended to be restricted within a country or team, and findings had a limited shelf life and were all but forgotten once the next research program started. Research portals put a stop to this, creating a completely different way of utilizing research insights. Now used by leading businesses across the world, portals ensure that research is placed at the heart of an organization and is fully utilized so that research ROI is maximized.

But how do businesses ensure the research portal is accessible to all research stakeholders, ensuring maximum effectiveness across the organization while maintaining security?

Internal clients, the research team (and increasingly, suppliers) need to be able to utilize the portal to quickly find the information they require and add new information. In reviewing the effectiveness of their research portals for different research stakeholders, many organizations have made an important discovery about the different needs of users: Internal clients tend to be document-oriented, while research teams are project-oriented.

Typically, when internal clients search a repository they “just want to find the specific information they need”. They want the bottom line research results and insights, and they want to be able to quickly access only that information. In contrast, researchers have a more comprehensive interest in entire research projects. They are interested in:

  1. A broad range of project documents including initial project requests, RFPs, supplier proposals, stimulus materials, survey instruments, respondent data sets etc, as well as final reports and presentations
  2. Information about the project itself including project initiator, manager, supplier, project history, data collection periods, supplier performance, budget, actual costs etc

Research portals are most successful when they are able to serve all user constituents, giving them access to information in a format that is compatible with their role and responsibilities. As the internet is increasingly sophisticated in knowing who we are, where we are and what we’re interested in, expectations for corporate intranets have been elevated as well.

Whether you are improving an existing portal or starting from scratch, a standard requirement today is the ability to format and present information based on the needs of individuals, helping different types of users to quickly access the information they require by using a role-based structure. This structure allows organizations to:

  • Restrict portal access and direct users to pages that match their specific information needs
  • Pre-format simple and advanced search options to ensure ease of use by key users
  • Pre-format search results so that only information relevant to users is displayed
  • Restrict user’s ability to add or modify project or document information, based on the organization’s internal policies for initiating and managing research projects

Look for a portal that can be set up to match the needs of any research stakeholder and other roles set up by the platform, including:

  1. Research Vice Presidents: Where users do not directly participate in projects, but may oversee global work in progress, or be involved in tasks that include budget setting and tracking, preferred supplier selection, and use policies
  2. Agencies: Where users can only access and edit open projects where they have been identified as the selected supplier

By recognizing the different needs of individuals within a business, portals can “fast-track” users to the information and processes they need, ensuring that research is accessible right across the organization.

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One Response to Flexibility is the name of the game: Ensuring the research portal is an effective tool for internal clients and the research team

  1. Isabelle Collot says:

    Flexibility is the key as well when it comes to searching for information, not just to giving access to stakeholders. We come across more and more request for a Google-search engine in our portal which “guesses” what the user is looking for as well as wanting to ask questions on specific topics.

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