LOS ANGELES, February 28, 2016 — In Market Research, the Project Manager is extremely important. It’s the Project Manager that takes a project from start to finish, establishes expectations and delivers on those expectations. It doesn’t hurt if the Project Manager has a particular personality profile: results-driven, results-oriented, focused and with the ability to pay great attention to detail.
In addition to the helpful personality criteria, here are 5 tips to enhance anyone’s project management skills.
5 Tips to Better Project Management:
Tip 1: Determine Project Profile
Confirm all project specs with the client. Points covered should include:
- Target audience
- Incidence rate and LOI
- N size
- Sample plan
- Mobile-friendly or PC only
- Survey Links
- End pages
- Questionnaire review
- Reporting tool if available
The above could best be achieved on a consistent basis (and without forgetting anything) by creating a template that’s filled out for every project.
Tip #2: Client Preparation
Arguably this is the most important step in project management; client preparation, or as my inner thespian prefers to call it, “setting the stage,” is crucial. Many research professionals will probably agree that the pre-screening can be convoluted; there’s no standard practice as to how to handle costs and determine the incidence rate (IR). But there is no argument as to the need to pre-screen and prepare. To quote Abraham Lincoln, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
The more time you spend on preparation for a project, the less time you have to spend on the project while it is live. Preparing beforehand will give you more time to take on additional projects.
Client preparation comes down to two areas:
Attention to Detail and Common Sense
For example, if your target audience consists of gen pop 18+ and the IR is 2%, ask the client what criteria are expected to cause the low IR. The answer could influence your targeting and/or sample plan. When setting a project up in your applicable software systems, it is critical to create all necessary quotas beforehand as opposed to closing or adjusting specific demographic or behavioral quotas during fielding. For example, if the project requires nested age, gender, ethnicity, and region quotas, set each quota up accordingly despite the lengthy amount of time it will take. It will prove extremely beneficial once you go live. This tip may be obvious to most of you, but I have witnessed far too many scenarios where PMs, due to a tight timeline, neglected to set up all quotas beforehand. They ended up deserting the task entirely in an attempt to close and adjust as they go.
All project manager gurus know that if a project requires a certain number of completes from a hard-to-reach audience, one will want to fill that audience first before allowing the “easy” demographics to participate. For example, if a project requires quotas on age, gender, ethnicity, and region, but they are not nested, you’ll want to block any Caucasian females over the age of twenty-four when proceeding with full launch in order to ensure you are not left with 18- to 24-year-old Hispanic males in the Northeast. Of course, you should play with which attributes you chose to include or exclude based on how the study is performing, but I like to use Caucasian females as a starting point. In most scenarios, the client will agree with this sample plan. In the rare circumstance you are not permitted to implement this sample plan, it is important to double check feasibility and inform the client if there are changes.
Tip #3: The Full Launch Review
Within 12-24 hours in field (timing depends on project scope), review the project’s performance and provide the client with a quick recap. Include the current performance rate of the project (IR and LOI) and whether it’s on track to close on time. If it is not performing as anticipated, see Tip #5 (Problem Project Escalation and Management Process).
Tip #4: Daily Client Update
In addition to a recap after the full launch, send a daily update to the client even if nothing has changed. It conveys to the client you are on top of the work and eliminates unnecessary work the client has to do on their end. This equates to a happy client, hence more business.
Tip #5: Problem Project Escalation and Management Process
When a project was bid at a 50% IR and it’s performing at 10%, what should you do? Your initial response should be to review all internal aspects first (before reaching out to the client). If the problem is due to user error and can be easily corrected, there is no need to worry the client. The following are items to check when your project isn’t performing to spec:
- Links: Confirm that links are correct; look for missing or added characters that shouldn’t be there
- Targeting: Double-check the targeting qualifications and conditions for your quotas
- If applicable, pull a report on respondents — look for oddities in regards to survey length and term details; check if the majority of your terms are client-side or occurring before the respondent reaches the client survey (if they are internal, you will need to do some digging on the tech end to figure out why)
- Drop rate: Check for an abnormally high drop rate; if the drop is occurring before the client survey, do some digging on the tech side to figure out why
If everything looks good internally, it’s time to alert either the client or sales rep, depending on your company policy. The following items should be addressed when contacting the client:
- Inform the client of your findings and explain everything you have checked internally on your end
- Ask if targeting has changed and/or if specific demographic OR behavioral quotas have closed up; even if all demographic quotas are open, certain behavioral quotas closing up can have a significant effect on the IR
- Ask for a term report; if everyone is terming on the same tough question, perhaps you can start a dialogue about removing or rewording the question in order to get the IR up to the originally-quoted percentage
- Notify the client if feasibility and/or pricing will be affected based on the unexpected project performance
Being a Project Manager isn’t easy but the job title and responsibilities can’t be overstated. Have questions? Let us know!
About Katherine Albers:
Katherine Albers is the Senior Manager of Global Client Services for Innovate. Previously, she worked for another sampling firm where she helped lead project management for the company. For Innovate, Katherine contributes her experience and knowledge to many of Innovate’s clients and assists in guiding the development of Innovate’s sampling technology.
Real People. Quality Data.TM Innovate is a global online sampling firm, generating high-quality data from engaged panelists. Founded by Matt Dusig, Gregg Lavin and George Llorens, Innovate provides 24/7 client service to thousands of market researchers and research departments around the world. Innovate pioneered Human-Powered Sampling™ which promotes responsive communication for client satisfaction and created the First Class Panel™ which is a heavily screened, profiled and engaged audience of survey respondents. Follow Innovate on LinkedIn, Facebook,Twitter or Google+