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Go agile: Easy ways to integrate market research into your everyday job

Business owners need to understand the value of research. So why do we research? Savvy business owners do it to get feedback from their consumers, customers or users, which saves costs and increases the success of a product or service launch.

In this chapter, we share a few tips on integrating research into a business in the most straightforward and supportive way.

Bridging the gap

The three types of business processes, where research helps to bridge business with consumers or customers, are:

Strategic: processes linked to fundamental business objectives such as strategy development and portfolio management

Project-related: processes that focus on a particular initiative, such as a product launch and service change

Operational: repetitive tasks to support the business from product and marketing to the evaluation of results.

Also, there are many different approaches to organising business processes, such as:

- Stage&Gate,
- Lean Startup,
- Customer Development,
- Double Diamond,
- HADI-cycles.

All of them assume the need for consumer feedback. Popular tools, such as CJM, also require data entry about people's needs. In other words, we require research to practice any of those management approaches.

Research (feedback) — an essential part of any business process

When we do not adequately integrate research into the business process, it may result in 'not meeting consumer needs'. The consequence is that the business is unlikely to grow. You can compare it with being a fisherman in uncharted waters: you need to know what to fish for, what equipment you need to catch the most fish, where to find the fish and if there are any fish at all.

You can use the following framework to integrate research into your business process:

- Identify which types of process decisions you are making at each stage of the business.
- Identify what information you need to make those decisions.
- Identify what information you can obtain with research.
- Identify the situations in which research should be conducted (see the tutorial 'When you should not do research').
- Identify the research methods and tools that suit your needs. You can start by thinking about one approach to address one objective. For instance, we built fastuna.com to match typical tasks that product developers, innovators and marketers solve on a daily basis, taking into account this principle.
- Have an agreement with key stakeholders about integrating research into the business process.

To make a business case to them, explain:
а) which information will research provide,
b) which decisions will this information help with,
c) how this approach to decision making is going to support the business.
Get more organised
If this is the first time you are looking into integrating research into your business process, these tips will help you to get organised:

Prioritise where to start. Start with the most frequent and important process in your business. It improves your chances to be heard and make an impact. A high-frequency process highlights the benefits of research far quicker than a low-frequency process. That should make it easier to engage interested parties within the company and to accumulate internal support. For instance, an e-commerce website might start with customer orders/delivery rather than returns (which are hopefully low in frequency).

Integrate research at an early stage. Try to integrate research at the earliest stages of business processes. It is important to drive focus, reduce uncertainty in the future and speed up business growth. For example, embedding research at the raw ideation stage in an R&D process helps you to immediately select only the viable ideas and work with them moving forward without wasting money and resources.

Simplify. Use simple research approaches as much as you can. It saves time, and it is easier to share with those unfamiliar with complex methodologies.

Take action. When the methodology is clear, the results are easy to interpret and take into action.

Focus on problem-solving. We all know the benefits of research when it comes to problem-solving. So this is one area to focus on. Don’t ask questions or research something that is 'nice to know'. Only ask questions that are critical for decision making.

Be practical. Gain insights into your business. Understand what your business teams are working on. Learn about the current business objectives. Look for problems where research can help. Offer specific solutions rather than talk about potential achievements with research 'in theory'.
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