A Look at Our Time-Tested Project Process

Posted on: July 23rd, 2018 by doyle

Clients often ask me what makes Doyle Research special, how we’re different, and how we consistently deliver impactful insights. To answer that, I always fall back on our tried and true process for projects.  Sure, we have always been innovative in the methodologies we recommend, and sure, our team is some of the best and brightest in the industry.  But it starts fundamentally with a little extra effort upfront to really drill down to the core needs and along the way to be sure we are partnering to deliver the best output.

Here are the seven key steps we divide our projects into and what’s included in each.

Step 1: Understanding objectives

Our conversations always start broad.  As in, “What are three key takeaways you’d like to get from your research?” or “What business problem are you trying to solve?”

Sometimes it’s big picture, exploratory, or diagnostic, trying to understand a decline in sales, or a recognition that a competitor is making gains. Other times it’s more tactical — we need to pick a package for this cereal or know which ad to run for our new campaign. But making sure that we start with the broadest possible understanding of the reasons behind the research makes sure we are aligned with the necessary outcomes.

Step 2: Picking the methodology

Once we understand the business question, we start to think about methodology. Audience plays a huge part in this — we always want to choose the approach that will be best aligned with the lifestyle or situation of the people we need to get information from. And the type of learnings we need are also a big driver. Are we trying to inform product development or R&D? Then seeing people use the product or perform the task can be key. Are we trying to identify key milestones in a customer journey? In that case, maybe online journaling with a video component is the right fit.

We are not beholden to or invested in a particular approach, and in fact one of our favorite things is to blend different tools and processes. Often there is no single right answer for which methodology is “best.” Instead, it’s a question of evaluating all of the different factors — timeline, cost, audience, outcomes, internal stakeholders, topic, background — and coming up with the best approach for success.

Step 3: Assigning the team and kickoff

Our goal is always to create an easy experience for our clients. We want them to feel confident that their work is going to go smoothly, accurately, and get them what they need, so we have a dedicated project team who stays with the project the entire way, making sure that information transfers and details are managed accurately and efficiently.

Step 4: Action!

To ensure that we all start on the same page, we initiate every project with a kick-off meeting that includes all internal and external stakeholders. We review previous discussions to ensure alignment on objectives, timelines, audience, and other expectations.

Once we complete that step, typical milestones during this phase include:

  • Screener development
  • Recruiting
  • Programming (if a digital method is being used)
  • Discussion guide or survey development
  • Fielding / moderation

Each of these serves as a key touchpoint with our clients, whether we are keeping them up-to-date on the pace of recruiting, getting their input into the discussion guide, or helping them schedule stakeholders to observe virtual focus groups. In the spirit of transparency and partnership, nothing happens without them having a chance to weigh in.

Step 5: Analysis

This is where we really start to see the fruits of our labor. Our research analysts are a part of the project team, which means that by the time they sit down to write a report, they are already steeped in the background of the study and understand the nuances of how the project came together.

The payoff for this is learnings that are not just accurate, well thought out and actionable, but that are also infused with the intangibles that accompany any project.

Step 6: Presentation and wrap up

Delivering a report is an exciting moment – it’s the precursor to the most important part of the work we do, which is helping our client digest, understand, and begin to apply the learnings.

Whenever possible we like to present the results of the research to our clients, whether in person or on the phone. Time and again we hear how valuable this phase is. Our team has been intimately engaged with the research questions for weeks, and we are in the best position a to explain the findings and answer questions as they occur. To our minds, without this step the project isn’t done.

Step 7: Debrief

After we send our client off with their report and are confident that they have what they need to move ahead, we’re still not done. Our final step — and again, a critical piece of our success — is to conduct an internal debrief. While it’s fresh in our minds, we make sure to circle the team and discuss what worked, what could have been better, and the things we definitely want to avoid for next time, as well as those we want to try to do again.

Whether it’s a hybrid quantitative/qualitative study, a six-month online community, or a series of in-person focus groups, all the work we do for our clients follows this same basic recipe. It’s been tested and refined over time, and while the details can vary widely, we know from experience that it’s getting these fundamental steps right that sets us up for success. Want to hear more?  Simply contact us – we’ve love to chat.

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