How to Build a Business Case for Investing in Qualitative Research Software, Part 2

In Part 1 of our blog post on building a business case for investing in qualitative research software, we focused on two specific quantifiable business impact areas –

  1. Savings related to project management productivity improvements
  2. Savings related to the time and costs associated with creating highlight videos

These two areas are examples of going further than the common high-level statements around the value of creating great customer experiences and the overall profitability of customer-centric companies. In this post, we’re going to provide three additional examples of impact that could be included as part of an internal business case for investing in qualitative research.

For many who do qualitative research regularly, a normal part of the process is to outsource the transcription of those recorded sessions. The challenge is that if you’re doing any more than a handful of interviews, the time can really add up in terms of dealing with getting and using the transcriptions, as well as just waiting for the transcriptions themselves to come back from the vendor. In addition, the vendor costs themselves can really add up.

Here’s an outline of specific productivity and time savings areas that could be added to a business case, particularly if you’re currently using a more generic web conferencing tool like Zoom or Teams:

  • Time spent downloading interview footage for each session from the app you use to capture the recording, and then the time spent uploading that recording to your transcription service.
  • Time spent downloading the results of the transcription and then uploading it to a shared storage app.
  • Reviewing the transcription to analyze sentiment and to look for key discussion topics to incorporate into the end summary report, or spending time uploading it to a text analytics tool for understanding sentiment and to have key themes highlighted.

The time to do all of this for every session can add up quickly. In fact, many of our clients report spending an hour or more per session on all these activities. If you’re doing, say, 500 sessions per year and the resource is getting paid $65/hr, that would equate to $32,500 in productivity savings. So again, this is all part of hitting those research productivity targets.

In addition, there’s the cost of the transcription service itself which can range anywhere from $15/hr for tech-only transcription, up to $90/hr (or more) for tech + human transcription. If the platform both auto-transcribes and assesses sentiment on key topics, then it could also be a favorable ‘vendor consolidation’ savings, as you may not need those transcriptions and/or text analytics apps and services. Many customers who use Discuss like that our transcriptions are both instantaneous (saving 1-3 days) as well as good at getting what is needed, thereby eliminating yet another part of this winding road process to insights. Think about it, if that same 500 sessions/yr number is used, with each at one hour, that would equate to eliminating $45,000 (human + tech transcription) or $12,500 (tech only transcription) in annual costs.

In-person interview savings

One area that may or may not still be part of the budget for live qualitative research is being in-person. Of course, just a few short years ago, in-person was more the norm when it came to qualitative research, but that abruptly ended with the onset of the COVID pandemic. Some organizations have started to do in-person interviews again, and possibly that’s because they have not discovered technology and tools that are powerful enough to support their qualitative research needs. However, if you’re building a business case and there are some in-person interviews taking place, this is an easy area to save additional dollars. You can easily get to a quantifiable number by looking at the cost savings related to three areas of in-person interview savings:

  • Room rental charges
  • Travel expenses
  • Salary for travel days out of pocket

The math can sometimes feel a little daunting but these are the steps to follow:

  1. Note how much a one-day room rental charge is (typically $5k or more) and how many days in the year that in-person sessions could be eliminated by leveraging a purpose-built platform (with the right platform you really shouldn’t need to do any in-person sessions).
  2. Note how many people would be traveling to those sessions on average and the average cost for the flight, hotel, meals, taxis, etc. (maybe $1k each)
  3. Consider how many sessions per day could be realistically run at the facility.

Multiply all of the above using the numbers stated, if you had 50 sessions that you could eliminate the in-person for, and could fit 4 sessions into your daily room rental you would save over $100k annually. Here are some details behind that number and an example of what could be put into a business case:

In-person interview savings (room rental, travel expenses, salary for travel days)
Typical room rental charge (1 day)$5,000
# of sessions requiring travel50
# of interviews conducted per day in the rented room4
Total number of room rental days that would need to occur (# of sessions / # of interviews completed in the rented room for the day)13
Typical number of people traveling (including observers)2
Estimated cost per person traveling (Flight, hotel, meals, taxis, etc.)$1,000
# of days saved from not traveling per session2
Total travel days saved from minimizing/eliminating the need for on-site qual sessions (assumes 1 day of travel on the front and back end of each trip)26
Salary saved from eliminating those travel days ($65/hr x # of days x 8 hrs/day$13,520
Total estimated savings from elimination of travel for qualitative interviews
(room rental charges + travel expenses + salary for travel days out of pocket)
Time to insight

Another example of quantifiable impact that isn’t directly related to productivity savings is simply decreasing the time it takes to reach critical insights. In this case, it’s not about tying a dollar amount to a decrease in a person’s time spent, but rather identifying the difference in how long it takes to complete a research project with vs. without a purpose-built qualitative research platform.

For this aspect of the business case, you would want to estimate the average time it takes to complete a research project. Then you’d highlight the time saved per session. For instance, with Discuss we have many clients who report the following:

  • 2-4 hours saved per session in analysis from our Save Moment and auto-clipping capabilities
  • 1-3 days saved per session in getting transcripts automatically
  • 2-4 days saved per session in creating highlight reels

Now all of that isn’t a direct time savings for an individual, but it is time saved overall in completing the project. What we commonly hear from clients is that what used to be an eight-week research project now takes only four to five weeks with Discuss.

All of this ROI in both Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series is very focused on productivity savings. It should also be noted, though, that there is a definite revenue impact aspect to building the business case, whether you’re an agency or company selling a product or service. If you’re an agency, all of this time savings leads to being able to do more research projects for clients. And if you’re selling a service or product, getting better insights faster absolutely leads to an increase in sales for the service or product. In fact, Unilever reported a 24% uplift in sales for one brand after leveraging Discuss to drive qualitative research.

If you’re trying to build a business case for investing in market research tools or UX software, we do have a template for creating that business case. To get started, just schedule time with one of our subject matter experts and let them know you’re interested in building this business case.

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