Is Your Organization Ready for a Research Community?
While a research community presents an opportunity to keep your customers at the front of decision making by giving them a proverbial seat at the table, it does require a meaningful investment of time and budget to support. Ensuring your organization has reached the right stage in its journey to introduce a research community is key to achieving true ROI. If you’re considering a community for your team, assess your organization on the following three dimensions to determine if the time is right.
You have a persistent and ongoing need.
One of the first indications that it’s time to consider a research community is a growing influx of demand for the consumers’ perspective from internal teams. Take stock of these inbound requests, determining who you are conducting research with, how you are engaging them, and how often. If you find you’re reaching out to the same sample groups at least once a month, you may have reached the critical threshold for an engaged community. Keep an open mind to how a community could better support your needs to better understand and co-create with consumers—as the traditional year-long endeavor may not be the right fit for your organization.
Considerations for when a consistent need is a strong fit for a research community include:
- Desire for more and varied consumer input across internal decision makers, amid a wide range of business needs with the same sample group
- Focused business objectives among a single consumer group, such as understanding the customer journey for your category
- A repeated, ongoing business process with cadenced need for consumer input, such as the organization’s innovation process
Not sure if you need a panel or community, check out our post comparing the approaches.
Stakeholders are bought in.
While having a consistent need is often triggered by stakeholders, to truly gain the value of the community, ensuring they are onboard is important. Spend focused time before launching the community in an effort to set expectations on use cases and timing. You’ll also want to build out an initial learning plan connected to both team and broader organizational initiatives. If stakeholders are leery of the commitment, consider defining focused pilots such as smaller-scale sample requirements or short-term and more narrowly focused research goals, building the case for impact through lower investment options.
Having a plan to engage stakeholders pre-launch, as well as throughout the research community’s lifecycle, and a continued focus on bright spots and success stories is also key to generating new use-case ideas among stakeholders.
Your organization has the capacity to act on the insights.
Establishing internal buy-in and a vision for use is an important foundation, however, ensuring that stakeholders have capacity and authority to activate on the insights uncovered is essential to achieving your ROI story. If insights from the research community serve “nice-to-know” objectives or reveal opportunities that the team lacks the ability to implement, recommendations become back-logged and stakeholders can find themselves overwhelmed and frustrated. Determine if inability to implement is temporary or if more substantial resource or process decisions need to be made before investing in a research community.
Once assessing your organizational readiness for a research community, explore our post on considerations for a community partner here. A research community is a large commitment, ensuring both you and your organization are ready for it will help you set expectations and ensure success.