Did you just get a 48 hour deadline for completing the pre-launch testing for a new ad campaign? Or perhaps you’ve been asked to evaluate –within a few days–if a potential acquisition will provide brand synergies? Or maybe the executive team is looking to quickly understand consumer reaction to competitor activities?
There’s no doubt about it: fast-turnaround research is here to stay. Failing to provide timely support to business partners can reduce the stature of Research within the company. But, shortening timelines often poses a risk to the quality of the research or entails additional cost. It’s no wonder then that researchers are struggling to adapt to the accelerating pace of business decision-making. Here are a few lessons from our new research on Executing Fast-Turnaround Research:
- Focus on supporting business partners (not creating perfect research): All research requests don’t require the same degree of rigor. If the research request is supporting relatively lower-risk decisions–such as tweaking on-ground marketing activities or providing directional guidance on a lower-risk strategic decision–it’s better to provide “good-enough” information on time, instead of “perfect” research too late.
- First, leverage existing research: If quick research is warranted, first check if the request can be answered directly or indirectly through existing research – such as foundational knowledge, past studies, or previously-collected data – before conducting any new research to save time and resources.
- Trade-off speed, cost, and quality based on your business needs: We often hear from our members, “Speed, Cost, Quality – I can do any two of these, but I can’t do all three.” Since the importance of speed, cost, and quality varies for each fast-turnaround request, select the best-fit method that best matches your business need.
- Identify hidden efficiencies by examining the end-to-end research process: To shorten project timelines, surface hidden efficiencies by examining what you can do differently before, during, and after the research. For instance, can you: Use a target group defined for a previous study? Engage the vendor to provide custom analyses? Increase the sample size while the survey is still in field to manage low response rates?
- Know when to say “No” to fast-turnaround requests: When faced with urgent and important requests, push back for longer timelines only if the decision is high-risk or if meeting the fast-turnaround involves a major quality trade-off. But if the request is urgent but not important, you can say “No” to less critical aspects of the question while prioritizing critical aspects, negotiate more realistic timelines, and encourage self-serve for simpler requests.
What are some of the ways that you handle fast-turnaround research requests?
- Fast-Turnaround Methods:
- Embedding Customer Knowledge into the Business
- Motorola’s Quick-Fire Research Teams
- Wells’ Dairy’s Fan Panel
- Kellogg’s Risk-Based Resource-Allocation Model
- Focus Research Scoping and Execution for Fast Delivery