Starting my journey in the market research industry 6 years ago, I have seen first-hand the shifts in the world of project management. I began my insights career in 2016 with Toluna as a management trainee, working to manage sample delivery to all surveys. I progressed to Sampling Executive, and from there, kept learning more sophisticated sampling practices, full-service work, In Home Usage Tests (IHUTs), and healthcare sampling in both physician and patient targeting. I have seen and worked on so many different types of survey methodologies including online sampling, telephonic in-depth interviews, Computer-Assisted Telephones Interviewing (CATIs), and Computer Aided Web Interviewing (CAWIs). When recruiting for challenging health care studies, for example, I also employed points of care methodologies, where instead of directly targeting the patients, we recruit healthcare providers to ask their patients questions within their own healthcare facilities. It is sometimes the best route for reaching participants with rare conditions. Methodologies are always continuing to advance.
Throughout my tenure and today as a Pod Leader with InnovateMR, there have been drastic changes in the everyday life of a Project Manager. From when I began in sampling up until today, it is a completely different game. More than just sampling running projects, PMs today are required to have a vast array of knowledge and skills from coordinating with different client stakeholders, communicating project statuses effectively, creating sampling methodology plans based on requirements and study/client type, and keeping up with evolving trends.
Today, we are seeing changes in:
- Respondent Behavior: Just as we are working in a fast-paced and insights-hungry environment, panelists are expecting more. They want membership to a community that is both fast and respects their time, only providing them with relevant opportunities. We need to remember that they are not just numbers on a spreadsheet. Additionally, how participants are interacting with surveys has changed. More than half of all survey traffic comes from mobile respondents, and there is more action taken through the panelist dashboards than through email invitation blasts. It is essential to keep up with these changing behaviors and build these considerations into survey design to maximize interaction.
- Fraudulent Behavior and Data Quality: Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been a huge uptick in fraudulent behavior from survey takers. There has been a 228% increase in fraud from April 2020 to April 2021, with serious and/or dangerous fraud increasing by over 385%. It is the project manager’s responsibility to be smarter than a fraudster. InnovateMR employs these checks, and trains all PMs in the following:
- Working with clients to design effective trap/red herring questions
- Creating knowledge-based questions to test for subject-matter expertise
- Employing Text Analyzer™ to read, flag, and filter open-end responses
- Digital fingerprinting, speeder checks, straight line checks
- Being a True Partner: Beyond successfully delivering a project, client empathy remains important to maintaining strong partnerships. Being transparent, ensuring proactive communication, and setting the right expectations are all keys to a happy client. Additionally, with global teams conducting research, our clients must work off-hours to deliver their research on time. A partner willing to do the same earns trust and earns loyalty. I love to interact with clients, learn their stories, learn where their research is coming from, its impact, and do my best to collaborate with their teams to make their lives as easy as possible. Our team and our technology together help to support the faster answers that clients are feeling pressure to constantly deliver.
Creating strategic plans for each of these emerging trends in project management requires a strong team. At InnovateMR, each PM, regardless of where they are, what times they work, and who they learn from, are provided a strong foundation and opportunities to learn. In my case, the entire team at InnovateMR has been a mentor to me. I never hesitated to reach out to anyone from top management for advice. That confidence helped me drive the value that I deliver every day. When I was promoted to a Pod Lead last year, I never thought I will be leading such huge accounts, much less, watched them triple in size. This was only possible because the leadership at InnovateMR trusted me and continue to trust all their employees and empower them to create an impact.
At InnovateMR, we have just gotten started, and I am excited to be part of every achievement as we continue to grow.