Sandwiches at the debrief? Travel expenses? No, it’s much worse than that. It’s time. The biggest actual cost of any research project is the time spent on it. Your time, your team’s time and even more so, the recipients’ time. It’s like an iceberg. The bit that sticks up and everyone pays attention to, is the time taken to sit in the initial debrief. The huge megalith of time that is taken in developing the brief, choosing the agency, reviewing proposals, back and forth on the plans, working to land the key insights (reducing the 200 page first draft down to the 20 page summary!) and then the almost endless process of getting the insights “out” into the business…

As you plan your research for 2018, how focused are you on time efficiency?

How will your projects and your agencies make things easier, faster and more efficient? And here is the most frustrating thing. A large proportion of time is not used to any real benefit. Reinventing the wheel takes up a big chunk of the planning; back and forth to try and make sure the participants understand the business needs; fine tuning (or even rewriting) reports to meet different recipients’ needs (or what they say are their needs!). So much waste.

The solution. Firstly, just make it a consideration: Factor efficiency into your thinking. Secondly, challenge your agency – how do they intend to make it better time wise. Finally, plan (and ask). So much of the wasted time could have been avoided if we had known at the start of the process what we knew by the end.