There's that word again, agile. You have probably heard this popular buzzword in the context of Silicon Valley startup tech companies. Originally created as a new approach for software development, agile practices are all about working in faster cycles than traditional methods to meet an end goal.
This innovative approach to business processes has been circulating through industries outside of software, including market research. Researchers recognized the advantages of agile projects and the applications it could have in their work.
In this post, I will go into detail about what it means for market research to be agile.
The agile method has found its way to the market research industry. Here is how it works and when it makes the most sense for your business.
What is a traditional market research process?
As a starting point, it helps to review the standard workflow of a market research project. Regardless of the market research methodology, there is typically a similar project plan from beginning to end.
This consists of a project kickoff, design, test/review, fieldwork, analysis, and reporting. Projects traditionally begin at a point A and conclude at a clear point B, barring any follow-up needs from the client.
With this traditional approach, there is a familiarity with the necessary time allotted for each phase of a project. This ensures the right outputs before moving onto the next phase. Working this way generally leads to longer timelines, but the end result is comprehensive and high quality.
What is an agile market research process?
In an agile market research project, there is less focus on a flawless result from the first iteration. Projects are viewed as continuously improving work.
The idea is to get results faster and more frequently. While this does not necessarily translate to lower quality data, researchers will not receive all the answers they were looking for from the first go-around.
Think of it it this way. Agile market research is a series of objectives and project phases rather than one large initiative. Where traditional approaches try to perfect each phase of research before moving on, the agile methodology runs through the entire process more quickly to provide results sooner.
When is agile market research the right choice?
Let me start by saying that agile projects are not always the best approach for your market research needs. While it can produce fast, real-time results, the agile methodology will by no means replace traditional workflows. That said, there are some serious benefits to conducting an agile market research project.
First, there is an unparalleled flexibility throughout the research process. If you anticipate changes to the project scope or objectives, an agile project will easily adapt to meet those needs.
Like any project, however, the earlier you make these monumental changes, the better. For example, a customer experience (CX) program is not a one and done research project. Many organizations practice regular customer experience or customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys with their customers. If a survey is sent once every month, it is likely project goals and objectives will change over time. This would be a good opportunity to utilize the agile methodology.
Another scenario in which an agile approach may be used is when working with heavily involved clients. If your clients wish to provide constant project feedback, agile research methods are able to easily support any quick changes they request. With multiple iterations of each research phase, changes can be implemented as soon as the next phase begins.
If you are in the process of choosing a market research firm to help your business, check out these 4 tips, including selecting a firm that is agile.
Drive Research is a market research company located in Syracuse, NY. Our experts have the capabilities and experience to design and conduct an agile market research project to fit your business objectives and goals.
Interested in learning more about our market research services? Reach out through any of the four ways below.