When Agencies Collide: Managing Multiple Research Suppliers
Collating resources from multiple agencies can help you achieve specific expertise from all areas for your research to make it success. Whilst it may often be easier to buy a ‘one size fits all’ package containing all of the resources you would need for research, hand selecting your suppliers will help you to achieve the best services for all areas of your research.
Advantages of multiple agencies: The advantages of working with multiple agencies when running market research include: spreading the workload — freeing up time for you to step back and ensure your objectives are being met whilst making sure everything is running smoothly, reaching areas of expertise that you or your team may not already possess — tapping into external resources allows you to cast a wider net into areas you may not even know about.
Who do you use? Sourcing suppliers can become a challenge if you’re unsure where to look. Recommendation or previous experiences are the most reliable ways to ensure you are working with the most suitable companies for your business. Knowing what a business is capable of and how they deliver speaks volumes when it comes to reaching your research targets — especially if tight deadlines are looming.
Other ways you can source agencies are via the internet, exhibitions, and market research specific publications. All of these sources will give you a good variety of choice, you just need to do some research to choose the ones that work best for you.
The Challenges of Co-ordination
Co-ordinating multiple organisations and individuals can be a challenge in itself so it is important that you set some ground rules or targets when working with multiple agencies to ensure you achieve your end goals. The main areas I think are important to consider when selecting and running a research project with multiple agencies include:
- Clear research objectives
- Manage Expectations
Clear research objectives: Having clear objectives for your research is essential for you to choose the suppliers that are most suited to your business needs. Using the objectives to source services will also help you zone in on what you actually need and not over-spend or over invest in something that you don’t need. A good agency will try to understand your research objectives as if they were their own to ensure they understand your research needs before progressing with the project.
Budgets: These are always an important aspect to consider when running market research as any resources or extra help that you require comes at a price. There is balance between choosing the best quality vs value for money. Don’t be drawn in by the cheapest offer, ensure your business needs can be met by the agencies that are offering the best prices. It is important for suppliers to be competitive if they want to win the business so you may find some room for negotiation. However, bear in mind that you may pay more for last minute requests or tight deadlines.
Manage Expectations: Managing expectations can often be the centre of building your research plan, by knowing what the multiple agencies can deliver, you can plan around this to set out what can be achieved and when. It is also important that the agencies have a clear understanding of what you expect from them so you can ensure your plan and targets are met — ultimately that everyone is on the same page.
Communication: Communication is probably the most important aspect of managing multiple agencies at once. Without communication you lose a sense of what is happening and at what stage each element of the project is up to. To allow you to closely manage the agencies and progression of the project you must invest in the relationships with suppliers to ensure they are communicating effectively with you. The last thing you need is any level of confusion when trying to manage a research project as this often can have a knock-on effect on the progress of the project.
Deadlines: For any successful project management, a plan of action is key, you need to know what to do and when to ensure your project is completed successfully. Setting deadlines will also help you keep track of the overall progress of the project and ensure you are meeting targets. It’s easy to let deadlines slip especially when multiple suppliers are being used, ensure you leave a little wiggle room in your project plan for unexpected shortfalls — some agencies may not be able to deliver their services as expected.
Plan for the unexpected — not all market research agencies are able to deliver services as expected.
No matter how much faith you have in the suppliers you choose, always have a back-up plan. You don’t want to be left short in one area of your research because you’ve been let down buy a supplier.
Taking the time to source companies that focus on one aspect of your research needs will allow you to achieve the best results for your research project overall. Having multiple agencies involved gives you the opportunity to explore other point of views and other possible interpretations of your research findings. Achieving unique insights from the multiple sources will help you achieve the best possible actions for your business.