In this conversation Tom French (freelance researcher and data analyst) and Renaisi’s Amanda Norrlander discuss collaborating on a project for the Centre for Accelerating Social Technology (CAST).

Working in partnership creates additional capacity and expertise for our work but more than that, it brings new perspectives and challenges us to think differently.

Between June and October 2020, Tom, Amanda and Tom Watson, of The Good Ship undertook an evaluation of the Design Hop – a short course which introduces the main concepts of digital service design to charities.

A design hop

How did you come to partner up?

Amanda: What started as two separate projects for CAST merged into one big quant’ and qual’ project combined. When the client connected us, we realised there was an overlap in the projects and that we’d be able to give more value to the client if we worked together.

Tom: Renaisi was commissioned to do the qualitative research and Tom Watson from The Good Ship and I were commissioned to do the quantitative analysis of CAST’s Design Hops. We got together at the start of our projects to understand what information we each had, mapped all the questions across both briefs against the data that was available, then put together surveys and interviews to fill in the gaps. We realised we could reduce duplication by working together.

What difference has working together made?

Amanda: One of the strengths of working together was that we were better able to cover the gaps in what we knew.

Tom: The more brains the better! It was good to have another independent, sounding board.  If we disagreed, we could talk it through and find out why were coming to different conclusions. Our findings were refined because of those conversations.

What do you think is the benefit to the client?

Tom: The fact that Amanda and I regularly got together to wrangle with the information and ideas meant we were able to contextualise faster. While the client still got two outputs, they said something consistent. That added weight to both our pieces of work.

Amanda: We were able to tell a more complete story to the client because we’d worked together to answer the two briefs. If we hadn’t collaborated it would have been harder for them to get the full story.

Tom: By reducing the duplication we got more time to dig into the data, compare and reflect on it together. For example, Google Analytics showed some interesting user behaviour on the sign-up page of the website. The data we had suggested that people weren’t sure what to do. Amanda was able to confirm that was the case through her interviews with charity staff.

Do you have any ideas for future partnership working?

Amanda: Nothing specific but I really value the learning I got from getting to know another consultant’s approach and I would like to collaborate in future.

Tom: I agree, understanding different perspectives can really help with learning, both personally and for the client.

Read Amanda’s and Tom’s learning blog for The Catalyst.

Find out more about Tom French, freelance data analyst.

Find out more about Tom Watson, The Good Ship.

Amanda Norrlander