7 Keys To Agile Qualitative Research Success. It’s More Than Just Fast!

Posted on September 3, 2019

Agile. It’s the buzzword in the marketing research industry today. The need for agile qualitative research is driven by internal client teams’ request for deep insights, quickly. They want a deeper understanding of their consumers than what a standard survey can provide.

The challenge for brand, marketing and insight teams is quickly adapting to the dizzying pace of change around them. This requires insight, faster than ever before.

Yet qualitative research is often considered a time consuming, expensive part of the research process.

The question is, can qualitative research be agile?

We know it can. But more than just being fast, it requires a different approach to managing the qualitative process, taking its cues from agile development and management values.

“Agile management is an iterative and adaptive process where small, highly-collaborative teams work in a series of short cycles, incorporating rapid feedback, to deliver emergent solutions, emphasizing transparency among all stakeholders.”

As we’ve practiced agile qualitative research and talked to our peers at many conferences, our team has elaborated seven keys to successful agile projects.

  1. Collaborate.
    • Clients need to trust the process and suppliers. The team must always be involved, and up-front a lot of time should be spent setting parameters.
  2. Define tight Objectives.
    • There should be only one big business question to answer. As someone said this should be a “decision event not a research event.”
  3. Follow the Process.
    • Each project must have a specific process and schedule in place from the start, to keep clients on schedule as well.
  4. Develop a Solid Recruitment Solution.
    • Recruiting is the most volatile step that can make or break an agile project.
    • Our solution is a pool of fast and flexible recruiting partners with communities, panels and other resources.
    • For example – we have a recruiting partner who auto schedules participants through screener on their phone that schedules a time we provide them to conduct an interview within hours. This works especially well with physicians.
  5. Be Quick.
    • Everyone has their own definition of fast, but we’ve believe agile qualitative research means delivering insights anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks from date the project is awarded.
  6. Synthesize Findings in Real Time.
    • Immediately debrief each day or each interview/group.
    • Involve the “backroom” with another moderator, merging the client team’s knowledge and experience with the voice of the customer.
    • Issue top line reports within 48 hours.
  7. Remember it’s a sprint, not a marathon.
    • Agile qualitative research is most effective as a series of quick iterative sprints vs. a research marathon. You must be open to change and adapt quickly.

Finally, it is critical that the insights gained quickly turn into action. Keep the insights – and the voice of the customer – top of mind as your client team moves through their decision-making process. By engaging them during the agile qualitative research process, they will more easily turn the insights into business action.