However, creating a research repository without a well-planned strategy in place can hinder its adoption and its effectiveness.
There are no one-size-fits-all or ready-made recipes for building a successful repo, so you need to figure out what’s best for you, your organization, and your context. In other words, you will need to conduct a little bit of research on your team.
In this article, we will explore five essential factors — referred to as the 5 Cs — that are crucial to consider when building a successful research repository.
To lay a solid foundation for your repository, you first need to define its overarching goal. Engaging in discussions with your team will enable you to explore the full scope of the repository's purpose and expand its potential within your organization.
By clearly outlining the repository's purpose, you not only guide its development but also cultivate a shared understanding within your team. This alignment of efforts with desired outcomes is crucial.
Furthermore, it allows you to recognize the distinction between building a repository exclusive to the research team and building one that serves as a comprehensive knowledge hub accessible to anyone in your organization. This distinction affects the repository's scope, usability, and impact on organizational growth and learning.
What purpose will the repository serve? Do you aim to facilitate faster access to past research for researchers? Or perhaps your goal is to inspire stakeholders and provide them with valuable resources?
Understanding your repository's target audience is vital for tailoring the content and structure to meet their specific needs. Take the time to identify who will be consuming the information stored in the repository and how they prefer to access it.
By gaining insights into your audience's preferences, you can optimize the repository's design and functionality to cater to their needs properly. Make it easy for the right people to access and use.
This is an important point to consider when you are building the MVP version of your repo, especially if you plan on doing it in a new tool your team currently doesn’t use. Start small and focus on a group of early adopters. Learn from them and iterate. You will have time to scale and be more ambitious later.
Remember, the more “out of their way” the repository is, the less likely people will adopt it. And there’s nothing deadlier to a repository than lack of adoption.
Who is going to consume the information? How? What do they need? How will they make use of the information?
The content you choose to include in your repository plays a crucial role in how you shape it. Consider the various types of content you can upload, such as presentations, documents, video snippets, or insights. It’s essential to determine the granularity level required for your repository based on its intended purpose.
For instance, if your goal is to create an insight repository, you will focus on concise and focused content, such as findings, data, and insights, whereas a report repository may house only “big” documents and reports.
What kind of content will you be uploading? Presentations? Docs? Video snippets? Insights? How are you going to present it?
Ensuring consistency and quality in your repository's content is paramount to its success. Clearly define who is responsible for adding content to the repository — whether it’s one person, multiple teams, or somewhere in between.
With the rise of research democratization and continuous discovery, there might be several teams generating customer-related content, so make sure you define the creation side of the repository, too.
Then there’s the “how” of content creation. Establishing content creation guidelines that cover formatting, style, and metadata requirements will help maintain a cohesive and organized repository. When content creators follow these guidelines, it becomes easier for users to navigate and search for specific information.
Who is going to upload content to the repository? One person? One team? Many teams? How will they be doing it? What guidelines need to be followed?
Loading research insights into a repository is like storing leftovers in the fridge. You can probably eat them the next morning, the following day, and maybe the next one, too. But if you let them sit for too long, they’ll become stale and even bad for your health.
To counteract this, establish a regular "cleaning up" routine. Determine how often you will review and update the repository's content to ensure its continued relevance.
Also, assign responsibility to individuals or teams for this maintenance task, ensuring that outdated materials are removed or updated. This is something that can be done quarterly, bi-quarterly, or annually.
How relevant is "old" content to you? How long are you keeping it? How often are you going to "clean up" to make sure what you are storing is still relevant? Who will be in charge of cleaning up?
To build a successful repository, you first need to set a strategy. And to set the strategy you need to consider several key factors.
I like to consider 5 key factors, which I call the 5 Cs:
This helps to define the repository’s goals, understand the target audience, and determine what kind of content will be stored in the repository. It also sets expectations for who will create content and how, and who will clean up the repository and how often they’ll do so.
Once you’ve defined the 5 Cs, your repository will have a better chance of success. What are you waiting for to start yours?
Julian Della Mattia is a Research Ops Specialist and Founder of the180. He helps companies build and scale research operations.