We are halfway into the Q4 of 2018, the busiest time of the year, and everyone is chasing deadlines. Suddenly, you receive a new project from a long-term client. The instructions are clear, the topic is simple, quotas are not too hard… The catch? The research is in 5 business days.
Tight deadlines and quick turnarounds are typical for Q4, and there are some strategies you can employ in order to make it through – without any headaches.
As with any other projects, providing accurate feasibility in order to manage client’s expectations is mandatory. Upon reviewing project materials and assessing team’s workload, inform the client about any challenges or red flags that you can forecast.
The client will come to you with a set deadline, and if you are not able to make it – be straightforward. You might not win the project, but that would be better than overpromising and underdelivering.
Additionally, the client might be willing to accommodate the project spec in order to cater to challenging fieldwork you anticipated.
We already spoke how important regular updates are, and how their frequency will depend on the agreement you made with the client. However, in the case of a quick turnaround project it is always better to keep the client in the loop. Meaning, it would be the most beneficial to send updates on a rolling basis throughout each fieldwork day.
Keep these updates concise. Break down the numbers of screened and booked respondents, with any road bumps you encountered. Present solutions to the challenges, and check for relaxation of criteria (if needed). Keep in mind that any changes you suggest should be backed up by facts and feedback you gathered during the fieldwork.
With large number of projects on tight deadlines, Q4 is the most chaotic time of the year. Do not let that chaos get the best of you. It can be overwhelming, but it is important to keep track and ensure a smooth delivery. These short-term projects are fuelled with urgency, but the client needs to feel supported and team would require clear guidance in order to deliver.
Once you have ticked all the boxes, but still struggling with recruitment, you should ask for assistance. Get in touch with one of your trusted partners and check whether they feel they could have better luck.
Furthermore, you should be transparent with the client and let them know you would advise reaching out to external partners as they might have more capacity or just know exactly which door to knock on. Having more hands-on deck will help you complete the project on time. Additionally, once there is another agency on board, you will not feel the same headache as additional resources would increase the success rate.
There is no way to make the Q4, or quick turnaround projects completely stress free. However, you can employ the techniques above and sail through this period as smooth as possible.