With multiple projects underway, it can be difficult to prioritize tasks, manage workloads and meet deadlines while staying within budget. Here at MDRG, we juggle an average of 15-20 fast-paced, custom qualitative and quantitative market research projects at any given time. That's why we have a project manager — the gate keeper of all our projects!
Deadlines missed, unorganized processes and not meeting profit margins: these are some of the risks you take when you don’t have a project manager. Quality research — and, therefore, happy clients — doesn’t happen by accident. They are a result of carefully planned projects committed to end-to-end quality control.
That’s why we’ve crafted three tips to consider for the optimal outcome when managing your team’s market research projects:
Plan, develop and scope research needs ahead of time. Like many industries, market research opportunities start in the proposal phase. By taking the time to properly prepare and plan, you set your team up for success should you (hopefully) win the work. This includes first gathering details on:
- Research objectives and methodology
- Target audience and sample plan
- Timeframes and milestones
- Nuanced logistics
- Overall expectations
You also need to carefully consider which partners and/or platforms will help best in achieving your goals. Then, you can begin to estimate the overall budget. At MDRG, we estimate hard costs paid to external vendors and soft costs based on hourly estimates for specific tasks (i.e., questionnaire development, programming, analysis, etc.). Once you’ve properly scoped the project, you can sit back and relax until the work begins.
Track progress over the duration of a project and flag potential risks. Once a project begins, project managers should schedule an internal kick-off to set expectations and align with the team on overall deliverables, timing and budget that were scoped during the proposal phase. As the research progresses, a good project manager should frequently schedule check-ins and reviews with the team to ensure certain milestones are being met in a timely, cost-effective and quality manner. As such, part of this is identifying and flagging potential risks – and escalating problems when necessary. After all, collaboration is key to problem solving!
Bonus tip: As you problem solve, document any areas of opportunity that can be adopted as a formal process for efficiency moving forward.
Consider a project and/or time management tool that will work best for your needs. To our last couple points, using project and/or time management tools can help you achieve overall project success. Project management tools – such as Asana, Smartsheets or Hive (our personal favorite) to name a few – are a great resource for keeping track of even the smallest project details and deadlines. As mentioned, part of MDRG’s scoping process is to estimate internal hours and then track actual hours as projects progress. In order to do so, our team inputs weekly timesheets into Hive that the project manager can easily pull hours from to check against the budget. We suggest that you identify and compile a list of what’s important to your company. Then you can formally vet tools against the checklist so you can choose project/time management software that works best for your needs!
At MDRG, we’re dedicated to the quality of our work, and we hope that these tips can help to ensure that your next market research project is successful!