Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

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The Challenge: Research by Design has been working in partnership with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) since 2007 when work commenced on the evaluation of its Regulatory Review programme. Since this time a variety of adhoc consultations with members have been undertaken, but the Regulatory Review Programme has remained and has developed to continuously meet the evolving requirements of RICS.

RICS Regulation exists to quality assure competence and thereby enhance members’ professional status through providing confidence to consumers and markets. Within this, the RICS regulatory review process is designed to monitor the performance of firms conducting regulatory activities. This is in part achieved through visits to member firms by RICS’ own accounting staff, with the firm subsequently receiving a written report detailing the findings of the visit.

The overarching research objective of this study is to evaluate the Regulatory Review Programme, to ensure that the associated procedures, processes and documents are clearly understood and that firms and members consider them to be fair.

Our Approach: A multi methodological approach is undertaken for this study. In the first instance, an online survey is delivered to member firms following the receipt of their written report. Secondly, as required, telephone interviews are undertaken to maximise response rates and ensure an even spread of interviews have been achieved across the RICS accounting staff.

Broadly, the survey seeks to gain feedback on communications, the review itself, the staff member visiting and the written report prior to gaining overall feedback. The online survey is designed to be adaptive, meaning the resulting display is tailored towards the device the survey is viewed upon. With the ongoing rise in the use of mobile devices to respond to surveys, this is a critical component of the survey design, and aids in achieving a highly impressive overall response rate, maintained throughout the duration of this study.

Of additional benefit to RICS is the ability to access real time results as the survey period progresses. Access to this system enables the client to view pre-prepared survey analyses as well as define their own analysis ‘on the fly’ should this be appropriate. Analysis can be delivered through traditional market research tabular analysis and through a variety of graphical options.

Another software benefit being utilised in this study is the ‘email alert’ system. Given the longitudinal element of this study, it is important for RICS to be made quickly aware of any issues arising from the survey and this is where the email alert system works extremely well. Dependent upon pre-defined survey conditions, automated emails can be sent summarising survey responses and respondent contact details to trigger follow up exploration.

In addition to ongoing feedback, regular reporting is delivered through a variety of channels enabling effective dissemination to RICS stakeholders. As well as traditional written reports, a series of scorecards are delivered at sub-segment level and a bespoke online dashboard effectively summarises survey findings, enabling data drill downs at a variety of key business levels.

The Outcome: The feedback from this research programme is critical to RICS’ ongoing appraisal of the review process and has enabled them to react swiftly to member insight. The process has evolved considerably over time and much of this is directly linked to the feedback derived from this study.

As well as ensuring the review process is fit for purpose, RICS also hold RbD’s independence in high regard and this is felt to be particularly pertinent when presenting feedback to the Regulatory Board, which meets regularly to decide upon policy matters and oversees the implementation of the regime.