Faster, faster, faster…

As improved technology and increased pressure enable and push us to speed up our work, David Ward this week ponders whether these faster turnaround times are always a good thing.

When I used to work at a well known bank, bouncing cheques and cancelling payments for those unlucky people frequently going beyond their credit allowance, a colleague and line manager of the team I worked in used to have what I suppose you could call a catchphrase. He would walk up behind an unsuspecting member of the team and utter the following words…

Faster, faster, faster… must go faster!

I never really understood whether or not this was his bizarre motivational technique gleaned from reading a book on people management or whether he really was just irritating. Who knows? Maybe it was both. His catchphrase sums up well a trend that I have noticed in my 10+ years in data processing and market research

Market research has always, as far as I can tell, been a fast-paced business. And this is very true for those working in data processing, especially as computing power and techniques in processing data improve. The time between questionnaire sign-off to CATI or e-survey setup seems to shrink, as does the time between fieldwork ending and the delivery of cross tabs. Everything has to be as thoroughly checked and accurate as before. It just needs to be delivered that little bit quicker. Over 10 years I think this is an undeniable trend.

Ever since I joined B2B International, I’ve looked at ways to improve the turnaround times in data processing that allow us to keep meeting our clients’ expectations. There are many ways of doing this. For example, we can invest in new software, as we have recently with Confirmit for our e-surveys and QPS Insight to allow us to carry out data entry more efficiently. We can also use the software we currently have more wisely, such as writing VBA scripts in Excel to automate certain tasks. Whatever the method we use to meet this challenge, it is a challenge I enjoy.

Having said that, I often ask myself whether there will come a point when people working in our industry will start to have to say no more often. Will the time come when the speed of delivery will start to have some detrimental effect on all-round quality of research carried out, and at what point does the trade-off between quality and speed become acceptable? At B2B International we’re well placed to deal with the challenges that market research throws at us. A combination of a strong team, smart thinking, and a constant drive to improve the way we work means we haven’t yet reached the point where “no” is something we have to say very often – and long may that continue!

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