By Thor Olof Philogène 

I don’t think it will come as a surprise but as the CEO and co-founder of an enterprise insights platform, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to make insights management more effective and human centric. 

But before organizations can manage their insights, they have to conduct the research to generate them first. And we’ve come to find that for many companies, this process of research management still has a lot of room for improvement. 

That’s why in this article, I’ll be breaking down the top three research management challenges and exploring some examples of them.

Common challenge No. 1: Lack of automation

While the research management process is not the only business area that frequently lacks automation, the complexity of the projects being managed and the number of stakeholders involved can make it seem like automation isn’t feasible. 

But that’s a misconception. Because while research projects are complex, they still involve a lot of routine, repetitive tasks that software can actually do. Far too much of the research management process is often still done manually, creating inefficiencies and taking up time that could be better allocated.

For example, all research-related documents that can be templated should. Otherwise, teams from across the organization might be wasting time reinventing the wheel when they formulate briefs, RFP documents or other study materials. And on top of time wasted, this can also lead to inconsistencies across research projects.

Without the right technological support, centralizing all the elements of your research program, let alone within an individual project, is nearly a full-time job in and of itself. But it’s an essential task; otherwise, key details risk falling through the cracks, incurring delays and subsequent extra costs. 

Common challenge No. 2: Lack of transparency

This second challenge builds on the first. If centralizing or sharing information related to a research project is too difficult or time-consuming, then it’s naturally going to be challenging to understand what’s going on and what isn’t. 

Lack of transparency might manifest as not having a single view on the budget, siloed vendor management or limited experience sharing across teams and departments, among other things. In any of these situations, inefficiencies and redundancies are likely. For example, with no single view on budget status, it’s harder to manage resources and be agile in short-term planning.

Or in the case of siloed vendor management, regionally distributed teams might be paying more than they have to at local branches of a research agency because they’re unaware of a general agreement with that agency on a global level.

In other words, a lack of transparency can quickly incur excess costs. 

Common challenge No. 3: Lack of integration

Finally, you have a lack of integration, which is often the result of one or both of the first two challenges. 

This is when research has been conducted, but it isn’t consistently integrated into the decisions an organization is making. 

It might look like finished research being difficult to find, research becoming outdated because the time from idea to action takes too long, research being duplicated and, in the most extreme situations, not being taken into account when making decisions at all.

In all cases, it means that research spend does not yield a high return on investment. 

One way to help to combat this challenge is to ensure that your organization has a centralized repository where everyone can quickly access insights when they need to find them. But it’s also a matter of ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are notified when new research has been published. Knowledge sharing on the organizational level is complex, and requires a thoughtful, multi-faceted approach. 

For more effective research management, start by looking inward

Before you can address the challenges above, it’s important to evaluate which ones are most prevalent at your company and what form they take. Or perhaps you identify a research management challenge that I didn’t manage to fit into this article (I admit this was just the shortlist). 

And of course, the right solution is never just tech. Solving complex challenges like ineffective research management will always require a combination of tools, people, processes and creativity.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something.