The Operations Team at HRW play a key role in managing the logistics of recruitment and making sure that fieldwork happens smoothly and efficiently; a crew of fieldwork specialists working behind the scenes, to make sure all the pieces fit together; ensuring we find the right respondents; and deliver everything our clients need and expect within the right timeframe.
For a team obsessed with efficiency and logistics, the recent industry buzz around ‘agile’ has certainly piqued our interest. This term is often linked to speed of delivery alone; but for us, ‘agile’ means much more than this. As with any exciting approach to research, the logistics and structure supporting it is essential: and for agile research projects, this is all about how we tailor our role so that the research team, and ultimately our clients, get the support and insights they need; when they need them.
Having recently conducted a number of agile projects, we have learned some important lessons, and have a few approaches to hand to help us meet the demands of this increasingly popular approach….
Taking an iterative approach to recruitment and fieldwork to ensure we can adapt quickly. This allows both, us and our agencies, to act quickly when swift changes are required, whether that be in relation to screener changes or amending materials consistently across markets, it is important that we are ready immediately to reflect any change in our clients’ needs.
Being able to quickly react, adapt and problem solve to maintain momentum. We don’t ‘sit’ on information, but instead we review and discuss, solve and implement necessary changes quickly and efficiently. This is not to say that we don’t do this on projects that may not require an ‘agile’ approach: reacting swiftly and efficiently to changing requirements is a key behaviour for every member of our team. But this becomes paramount for difficult recruits, complex projects, and situations where agility is expected.
- Openness and adaptability to change
To us, this represents a ‘mindset’, and as such, is probably the trickiest to explain! But putting it simply, it is the ability to not immediately think of all the “buts” but instead to concentrate on the “what ifs”: opening your mind to the options and possibilities not explored before. This is by far the most valuable commodity of the ‘agile’ approach and by far the hardest to implement, requiring not only your own sense of will but also the support of the team and colleagues alike. Keeping the ‘what if’ mindset is a collective approach to deliver innovative and adaptive solutions.
So how does HRW help run an agile project?
In order to make ‘agile’ work, having the right recruitment and fieldwork partners on board is important and fundamental to our success. We view our well-established network of local partners as an extension to our own team and work closely with them throughout. Before a project even starts, we carry out an upfront assessment of the recruitment avenues which are going to be most suitable for targeting, and then plan out a clear path of action to optimise our time in field.
Receiving daily updates on recruitment progress from our partners enables us to quickly shift resource to avenues which are proving most successful, exclude those which aren’t, and seek alternative options. Approaching recruitment in this iterative way also enables the research to benefit from sustained and dynamic momentum rather than endure a stop/start experience, which, as you can imagine, can have significant time and cost implications.
We really enjoy working together with our research team colleagues in collaboration and know that our involvement (though not always visible to our clients!) is critical to research success. This allows us to be an integral part of the project; to stay involved in the moment-to-moment developments and decisions on a wider project level; as well as share our advice and expertise.
As someone who spends their day chatting through problems and solutions relating to all things fieldwork, I find it really rewarding knowing that I have the confidence and trust of the entire research team, which really empowers me to think outside the box when it comes to my role on ‘agile ‘studies to make sure each project is a success.
To find out more about HRW’s approach to agile research or our specialised Field and Operations team, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Caitlin Robertson