Keep it In-House or Outsource – CATI
In the modern age, market research agencies have a wide range of IT requirements, including system design, CATI and CAWI survey programming, data processing, sample and customer resource management.
So there is no argument that specialists in these fields are not required. The question is whether to hire a full-time, in-house team, or contract out and bring in expert companies specialized in Market Research related IT only when needed. There are pros and cons to each approach, which are summarised below.
The benefit of this approach is that a company can bring in someone with a very specific skill set to take on a particular task. Let’s say that you need a programmed CATI survey in a particular software. Once that task is accomplished, they may not need those particular skills again, so it makes sense to hire the specialist only for the duration of the CATI project.
This makes financial sense and also means that a company can bring in a specialist absolutely focussed on the issue at hand who is specialized in the CATI software you are using, whereas a full-time employee would likely have a more general set of skills that could be applied to a variety of situations.
When a company outsources, it also doesn’t need to invest in the equipment or software licence necessary to do that particular job. For the CATI project, the contractor will either provide their own survey software or they will include the cost of acquiring the equipment in their fee, which will be less than if the company bought the extra licenses outright.
The disadvantages of outsourcing start with the fact that a contractor who can provide survey programming staff for example, can command a much higher hourly rate than an in-house operative. However, there are several silver linings here: an hourly rate of a company like Davilio will probably cost less than an in-house employee in western Europe. It can also be both difficult and time consuming to find a company with the right skills at the right level who is also trustworthy, affordable and available when needed.
Sometimes, as well, companies just don’t know what to look for. In time, any company will build up a book of contacts they can rely on for outsourced work, but this will need to be constantly updated.
In-house data team
Building up an in-house data processing and survey programming teams means that they can be trained to the company’s specific needs, and they will always be available when needed. This can be especially invaluable when an emergency arises..
In such a case there is no time to look for a specialist, call them and be told they can fit you in next Monday. The situation needs to be locked down immediately, and the damage dealt with.
With an in-house team, the company can ensure they are trained to the requisite level and, via exclusive contracts, can hang on to any star performers whose work differentiates the company from the competition.
For instance, if the company stands out for the number of completes of the CATI projects, it is hardly in their interests for the survey programmer responsible for the design of the questionnaire to be doing similar work for twenty other companies.
The cons to building an in-house data processing and survey programming teams can mainly be seen in terms of initial financial outlay. Finding the right people and training them can be a costly and drawn out affair. The training never stops either, as they will need to constantly update their skills and knowledge, gain certificates and so on.
Of course, they will also need to be kept on a regular salary with employee benefits. If these employees have in-demand skills at a high level, which they should, then they will need to be paid at a very competitive rate in order to keep them within the company.
However, the principle that you get what you pay for is no reason not to go down this route. In-house employees will also have a greater personal investment in making sure the job is done right and will be more likely to go the extra mile and provide exemplary service.
They also know exactly what is needed and are familiar with all aspects of the company. While an outside contractor can be brought up to speed, this takes time, which needs to be paid for.
Also, some details that might seem irrelevant at the time could prove crucial if omitted. With an in-house specialist, costs can be kept under control, and expenses won’t suddenly balloon, as they will remain on the same salary with whatever work they are required to do.
Companies such as DJS Research have found that keeping an in-house data team works for them, but Ipsos felt that outsourcing a variety of roles is the most economical way for them to progress. It is clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this dilemma.
There are plenty of companies that really don’t need to outsource their technology needs. They can cash-flow an in-house data department with ease and they have enough expertise and technology related work to justify paying a data crew, annually. For other companies, there may not be a need to hire, train, develop and, direct an in-house, data department. For those businesses, and in particular, startups, a reliable and experienced third party is an undeniable asset. Businesses who want to swim with the big fish in the evolving rapids of technological change have to find solutions that fit their budgets and their true business needs. If you’re a startup, it may make a ton of sense to hire and leverage the collective expertise of an outside firm to get your business on the right path and to allow you to focus on other areas of the business. Weigh your risks and make an educated decision that’s right for your new business – Davilio is the perfect partner for you with proven quality, excellent data team experienced in niche softwares and a price that can not be beaten.