Five tips for running research communities more efficiently

Published 29 April 2021 2 minute read

Online qual
Research communities

Running and managing effective research communities and discussion boards – ones that meet your research objectives and help you make better decisions – can quickly eat up your time and drain your resources, especially if you don’t do your preparation.

Do the groundwork, plan things effectively and not only will you achieve game-changing insight but you’ll reduce the effort needed to keep things running smoothly and on-time. You can also achieve greater focus, avoid costly errors and have happier participants.

This guide offers five ways to run insight communities more efficiently.

1. Talk to stakeholders early on

It’s good practice, no matter what the project, to go and talk to your stakeholders as early as possible in order to understand what the  requirements of their research community are. Speak to them about what they need to derive value from the community, or what questions they need answering over the foreseeable period.

Stakeholders can include internal clients, suppliers and partners, so you may need time to engage these diverse groups to understand their take-outs. Engaging stakeholders early on puts you in a good position to write your research briefs and project scope knowing you’ve got all bases covered.

Failure to do so leaves you exposed to the possibility of scope creep and having to respond to late requests in a short space of time, both of which are something you want to avoid at all costs. Once you have a clear plan of the research, socialise it with your stakeholders. Consider getting them to sign it off and include clear change management procedures to help keep things on track. Further can help you devise a plan for stakeholder engagement and templates for writing effective research briefs, so don’t be afraid to bring in your partners early on.

2. Keep your stakeholders regularly updated

Smaller sound bites and snippets are proven to be more memorable and inspire action, so keep your project stakeholders updated regularly with smaller, more visual updates. Not only are they more likely to remember the findings, they are more likely to act on them and derive value.

3. Create an activity plan

An activity plan is like a calendar of community events and can cover a short or long period. It will show what activities and discussions go live when. It can also highlight who is responsible for moderating, analysing the responses and writing reports.

We recommend trying to create an overview of the activities and discussions on one single page so that you can easily receive and share feedback from stakeholders.

Further can provide you with a template for your Activity Plan upon request.

4. Analyse while you go

We call this technique ‘rolling analysis’ and it saves you considerable time and cognitive activity. In simple terms, it relies on you reviewing, analysing and recording your thoughts and analysing the data collected as the community progresses, rather than at the end (of defined time periods).

Another advantage of the rolling analysis method is that you can more quickly surface new themes and ideas, and activate new tasks and activities that support your hypothesis.

On Further’s research community platform, we recommend you use the Notepad feature for your rolling analysis to tag responses and record your thoughts and ideas.

5. Set up for success

Setting up or programming qualitative and quantitative research on your community platform is an ongoing effort since you won’t know all the questions you want to ask from day one. However, by having a plan for who, when and how you will set up initial activities, discussions and tasks will save you precious time and allow you to manage resources.

Further’s team are on-hand to support you and provide practical advice and guidance on how to setup and program your research. Heck, we can even do it for you if you have limited resource or time.

A method the team here at Further employ is when the fieldwork has been completed, to jot down the ten things they think the client should know right away. They then distribute these almost immediately and inspire action and response.


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