Redbean - Case studies have been around for a long time but are going through a resurgence as people rediscover they are one of the fastest ways to understand a problem or opportunity in your organisation. They range from short promotional cameos through to the in-depth industry studies championed by Harvard University as a teaching method. In between is the targeted case study. These can provide valuable insights for both business analysis and improvement of a particular phenomena.
Case Studies provide many benefits to an organisation, including;
* A Promotional tool – to share with clients and/or magazines to promote your products and services
* A Recruitment tool – let prospective staff or investors see your working culture
* Business insights – these are used for business improvement and strategy setting
* A Training Tool - describe complex sales scenarios and processes
* Benchmarking - a larger study can provide feedback and benchmark data on performance within a business sector or project
* Case Studies are fast and inexpensive research.
A well written case study is a useful research tool to help understand or explain any phenomena affecting your business. They are designed to uncover what is going right, and wrong, with either products and services or even teams and projects. They can evaluate and analyse or just observe and report what is. They can look at the business, technology and people, in isolation or all together.
Redbean uses the case study as a first step in Experience Design. It can answer questions like are the customer expectations being met? Is the product/service delivering? Are the staff adequately skilled? Is this project wasting time and money? What other opportunities are we missing? What are the competition doing? And our favourite - what is really going on here?
And because case study research uses the principles of anthropology it looks at what is without affecting the process. Unlike traditional market research which is better at describing a static picture of attitudes and desires, case studies can report on dynamic events and ongoing processes from multiple perspectives.
Should I pay for a Case Study?
You asking me? I’m a consultant!
A short advertorial case study will usually just require some desktop research and a phone call with some key players. A good copy writer can make your project or product sound interesting and exciting and provide you with a great promotional piece. They are either done quid pro quo with a magazine looking for copy or you may pay a fixed price for your own use and reprint rights.
A more in depth and useful case study which looks at one phenomena of your business is a bit more involved and at the very least will involve on site interviews, document research, observation time and several edits and analysis.
Be wary of long distance research. It tends to get it wrong. Good researchers go and see for themselves, meeting the people or perhaps being a secret shopper. Seeing the scenario and context of a problem makes it come to life. While not there to snoop (unless that is in the brief) researchers should always lift a few rocks, look around some corners and have the odd “off the record” conversation. If the client is serious about finding out what is going on they will appreciate this level of detail. You may even use the case study to compare with your competitors.
Case studies are typically inexpensive and return richer information and better value for money than empirical market research methods.
Case studies written by experienced and objective researchers are one of the most useful tools any organisation has available for understanding quality and improvement, regardless of their purpose. And Smart businesses are always striving to improve quality.