Real-world evidence has proven that businesses need to be adaptable if they are going to survive and thrive. Turning from rigid processes to embrace flexibility is known as the agile methodology. Becoming agile is a primary goal for many teams, departments, and organizations in theory. However, in practice, achieving agile transformation can be challenging. Overcoming resistance to change requires a clear demonstration of value and the right tools and support to implement your strategies successfully.
In market research, unacceptably slow turnaround times have eroded the influence of many insights teams. However, companies want to make data-driven decisions. This has jump-started the push for agile transformation. Here, we share some tips and tricks to manage the transition.
What is an agile transformation in research?
At the heart of the agile methodology is the agile manifesto. Written nearly 20 years ago, the founders of this movement advocated for simplicity above all things. In other words, if there’s a faster way to do it while maintaining quality, do it that way. Agile is not a rejection of defined processes but is instead a rejection of blindly following such procedures when better options exist. What does this mean in market research?
Traditional market research consists of lengthy structured processes designed to ensure that the data collected is of the highest quality possible. This makes sense. The information collected from market research will impact decision-making at the very highest levels of the organization. Unfortunately, these processes have been outpaced by the high-speed technological innovations of the moment. Business leaders don’t want to wait for data; they need it now.
That’s where agile transformation comes in. In market research, this means a shift in your priorities from stubbornly sticking to linear business planning models to marrying a more iterative process with creative inspiration at every stage. Instead of slow-and-steady incremental innovation that can lead to stagnation, agile market research dreams big.
This is about finding the next major innovation that will make a difference for your department. The ultimate goal of agile market research is flexibility. An agile insights department should be able to quickly respond to changing trends and enable your business to stay much closer to your target customers. Finally, agile transformation also means embracing automation platforms allowing you to get results faster than ever.
A few things to know before you start
Over the years, aytm has used our cutting-edge technology to help many businesses and market researchers implement agile principles. That experience has confirmed several truths you should be aware of before you start your transformation journey. Perhaps the most succinct description of these principles comes from research done by Mckinsey. They identified five major hallmarks of all successful agile companies:
- A shared purpose and vision
- A culture that fosters entrepreneurship
- Empowered teams that work collaboratively
- Rapid decision-making focused on frequent improvements
- Next-gen technologies
A shared vision can help you sell your agile strategy to your stakeholders and help guide your focus. Your goal is to get closer to your customers. Agile research lets you do that and so much more. Agile market research treats your customers like real people. Real people don’t have fixed opinions and feelings that remain consistent across weeks or months. Preferences may change for various reasons, and your company needs to be ready to respond.
An innovative culture and collaborative teamwork are also essential for your agile transformation to succeed. Team members must feel comfortable enough to experiment with their processes and try new approaches.
Finally, rapid decision-making and next-gen technologies are vital. Without the ability to decide things in the moment, your team will be unable to deliver results at the pace needed to keep up with the demand. Furthermore, manual processes will always slow you down. That’s why you need next-generation platforms (like aytm) to help automate processes and speed up your insights collection and analysis.
Building a team and a business case
It shouldn’t be too challenging to sell your agile transformation to stakeholders to get their buy-in. The benefits are clear: faster results, higher quality, more affordability, and more flexibility. According to the agile manifesto, companies need to focus more on people and less on tools and processes. Tools are valuable, but empowering your team means that there will be more opportunities for creativity and innovation. A culture like this means that your team members can solve problems faster.
Hold meetings frequently to encourage a sense of collaboration, sharing ideas and building on them. Communication is key. It is crucial to get everyone aligned on goals and strategies. This also means responding to change is prioritized over following the plan. As you and your team brainstorm the best way to solve your problems, you will often be surprised by a novel solution. Following this better path may lead you away from your original plan, which should be acceptable. When you come to one of these forks on the road, it can sometimes be helpful to check the results you are getting in real-time and rely on existing data to get context.
Building your team and business case may also involve working with a service provider. Agile doesn’t always mean doing everything on your own. If your department’s budget is limited, working with a provider like aytm can sometimes be the best way to achieve an agile transformation without having to make new hires. Agile market research services can give you and your team the support you need to make your agile transformation successful.
Keys to a successful agile research transformation
A true agile champion is one of the most important keys to a successful agile research transformation. You need a leader driving this transformation that is passionate about the principles of the agile methodology. This leader must also be able to take responsibility for the risks present with all actual change. This is why we encourage insights departments to secure top-level executive buy-in.
Communication is another key. With the right tools at your disposal, your insights department can collect surprisingly detailed information in a short time. Start demonstrating your capabilities and ensure that decision-makers see your reports. We also recommend starting small and working your way up. Going agile was never meant to happen with the flip of a switch. On the contrary, to be successful, this transformation needs to grow organically, one team and one project at a time.
Finally, finding the right partner is crucial. aytm can help make your agile research transformation successful by providing a powerful and easy-to-use platform and a wide range of services. Let’s work together to get the insights your organization needs to thrive. Click here to learn more about how aytm can help you today!