The project management triangle denotes that a perfect balance of speed, quality and cost is impossible - a client fantasy and a hard choice that must be made outlining which variable is most important. I have had this theory relayed to me many times in my career as a researcher. But does it remain relevant in today’s context?
Even during the current crisis period, the world continues to adapt and transform faster than ever before. A mixture of technology, education and connectivity results in organisations having to make more decisions more quickly. As the timeframe for decision-making diminishes and yesterday’s data becomes irrelevant fast, both speed and cost can no longer be considered a separate entity to quality, but very much a driving factor. But how is this possible, surely something has got to give?
Well, at Norstat we think not. We have always invested heavily in one crucial element of the research process, which ensures you can have your cake and eat it, too: engaged and relevant research participants.
If you wished to understand the impact of the COVID pandemic you wouldn’t ask a football manager (particularly Jürgen Klopp) to comment, nor would you accept the opinion of those disobeying the lockdown regulations. Irrelevant or disengaged participants should not be fuelling the insights that drive organisational decision making.
Poor respondent quality creates noise in your data, slowing down your ability to isolate relevant and actionable insights. They provide false positives and red herrings that can lead your decision making astray. And as for costs - well, that depends on how you evaluate them. Carelessly selected respondents may provide a lower cost per completed task, but they rarely provide a lower cost per insight.
On the other hand, relevant and engaged participants increase speed of insights as they are easier to recruit and provide a significant amount of useful perspective per head. They also provide considered and truthful responses as they care about how their opinion will be used, particularly in the context of the betterment of a brand or topic they feel passionate about and engaged with. Furthermore, they enable long term investment in research to be reduced, as less time is spent sifting through the noise or readjusting back to the right course of action.
During times of crisis, it is easy to be drawn into a cost-saving strategy, and there is no doubt that this may be sensible. However, it is important to assess whether lower costs relate to the sacrifice of quality or speed – as according to the old paradigm. Or whether it is derived from the new one, where lower cost is a direct result of an unwavering focus on quality.
Finally, you can have it all!
If you want to find out more on how we ensure the respondents for your next study are genuinely passionate about your desired topic and meet the criteria for their opinion to be relevant, please do reach out to me directly.