Ten Tips for Effectively Leading Large, Global Market Research Projects
Our world is flat. Or, at least, it is becoming flatter. In the age of globalization and global markets, companies are no longer able to focus on only the North American and European markets to stay competitive. Product promotion has expanded to developed and emerging markets alike in an effort to bring products to a world-wide customer base.
In most cases, a degree of autonomy is granted to operational functions in each market, allowing them to function as semi-independent units. However, all-encompassing global strategies are useful in capturing efficiencies and ensuring consistency across markets. As a result, the need for multi-country—even multi-continental—research projects continues to grow. Of course, any project of global scale adds complexity. Here are 10 tips for effectively running a large, global market research project:
- Plan in advance
A large global project can span 15-30 countries and involve well over one hundred individuals. Proper upfront planning is the single most important criterion in determining a successful outcome. It is critical to 1) align on objectives and 2) develop a robust project timeline. Both of these should be reviewed and approved by all partners and stakeholders upfront to avoid issues down the road.
- Use trusted partners
To effectively run a global research project, you will need partner organizations to support along the way. Whether they support in participant recruitment, event organization, translation, or other tasks, these partners play a critical role in the success and timing of your project. Whenever possible, you should work with partners you trust and have a positive history with.
- Set up effective tracking instruments
Larger scale global projects can easily have fifty action items to complete per day. Project management software, or robust tracking instruments are essential for keeping the project on track. Trackers should be accessible to all core project team members and it is important to be diligent in keeping records up to date.
- Work from a master document
When creating documents to send to multiple markets, it is advisable to work in a single, master version. This document should be finalized to the greatest degree possible prior to splitting it out for individual markets. This will help ensure consistency across markets and avoids the need to update many documents to implement a single change.
- Pad your timelines
If it is available, build a 30-50% buffer into your ideal project timeline to account for unexpected delays. Even with the best planning, delays are likely to happen when involving a large number of teams and multiple time zones. A single revision can delay a project by over a week as the change is translated, validated, and reviewed. Avoid the rush and add the time upfront.
- Allow markets to lag
Even after adding buffer time to your project, you may encounter an issue that causes a significant delay in one of your markets. Often, it is best to continue forward with the other markets while the issue is addressed. Plan for this in advance and determine how you will proceed if one of your markets must be delivered later than the others.
- Ask for support from affiliates
Local affiliates are one of your greatest resources when running a global project. Individuals for each market should be identified and communicated with at the outset of the study. Their support should be used to understand unique aspects of their market, as well as help with translation or language issues in a pinch.
- Communicate with affiliates frequently and effectively
It is important to clearly communicate with local affiliates what is expected of them and when it is expected. As they are unlikely to be involved in the day-to-day communication of a project, occasional status updates should be sent to keep them in the loop. Any timeline updates should be communicated well in advance, and you should note country holidays or vacations that might affect turn-around times.
- Check with local legal affiliates
Legal considerations are different in each country and it is easy to fall afoul of local regulations without seeking proper guidance. Ensure your research plan and materials are viewed by local legal affiliates.
- Meet in-person
We’ve all experienced that projects go smoother when project teams have the opportunity to meet in person. This is even more critical when the team has different backgrounds and are scattered across the globe. Providing an opportunity for individuals to meet, at a project design meeting or strategical planning session, can provide long term dividends on the overall success of your project and the satisfaction of your team.
Large, global research projects require intense logistical planning and greatly benefit from an experienced team. KJT Group is happy to consult on your global research needs and will follow the steps above to ensure success for your company.