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How to Optimize Your Change Management with Research Workflow Tools

June 21, 2023 (7 min read)
Research change management is expedited by the right workflow tech tools.

Change management is a crucial, yet daunting, part of a company’s life cycle. Whether it’s in response to exciting growth or disappointing pitfalls, adaptation is often necessary when it comes to moving forward, and the need to adapt is only increasing as the marketplace becomes more unpredictable.

Change management is especially important when it comes to research. Research teams are often shifting their day-to-day workflow habits based on new modalities that promise to make their lives a little easier, but a lot can get lost in the gaps if there isn’t something to assist in that shift.

Here, we outline why a change management strategy is essential for researchers, steps to begin your change management process, and how technology can make the transition as efficient as possible.

Why change management is necessary for researchers

With the ever-expanding breadth of information, companies must frequently implement change in how they do research. Finding, collecting, and organizing data is a lofty task that is slowly becoming easier through new technology. Companies who rely on research as a part of their business model benefit from staying on top of new research tools because they ultimately save time and resources by leaning on new technology. But these new methods are not adopted overnight.

As such, these newer innovations drive a need for change management within research-focused teams. When an easier tool is identified, companies will need to identify the ways in which to shift workers from their old habits to this newer method. The time it takes to onboard employees is certainly worthwhile, though, as new tools will bring forth a great deal of benefits, like eliminating mundane tasks and allowing companies to focus more on strategy.

MORE: How to choose the right workflow technology for your company

Documenting research workflows

Of course, the first step to change management is identifying what the current processes look like. Documenting workflows by having the research team report their typical methods helps leaders understand where things are getting deleted, which leads to discovering ways to speed up and simplifying the research workflow in the long run. Developing a good baseline understanding of the ins and outs of each researcher’s current methodology can also help leaders take one positive practice from one team and apply it to the rest of the organization.

This kind of documentation can be done using third-party project management tool like Asana or can be recorded manually, through speaking with each teammate about their own approach. It’s typically easier and more robust to use a software program as it will track research workflow in real time.  These tools can compile will deliver reports on the time taken to accomplish tasks and insight on where the task was caught up, so companies can get greater insight.

Organize and maintain research workflow documentation

One big hurdle in the research process is understanding how to best store, synthesize, and share key findings across a team. This is where a research hub is critical: tools like Nexis® Hub allow users to highlight and store data, including metadata, directly from a web page instead of needing to manually save findings.

And, data collection is platform agnostic, so you can keep your findings and research with you regardless of source. This is particularly useful if you are moving from relying on the open web for research to a specialized database or if you are using a variety of data providers to collect information.

Here are some best practices for documentation:

  • Always store data in a safe, accessible place where it remains private but is not easily deleted.
  • Ensure that data points are stored side-by-side with the information on the source they came from, so fact checkers can easily see if those points are accurate.
  • Don’t over-rely on one source for your data.
  • Share data across your team so that you don’t “double up” on the work, having two employees dive into the same article.

The clearer your documentation is, the more time you save searching for quotes or reviewing data. This will ultimately save you valuable resources throughout your business projects.

MORE: Creating a prioritization system to avoid unnecessary task switching during research

Ensuring smooth implementation of research workflow changes

Once the new research workflow has been crafted, it’s important to have a smooth rollout that makes every employee feel ready to adapt. Here are some key steps to consider when rolling out change:

  • Test and pilot research tools beforehand. Have a few volunteers take early trainings of the new tools so that they can provide accurate, company-specific feedback to see if this will really be useful across the board.
  • Dedicate time and staff to helping employees onboard onto their new tool. Host frequent training sessions and offer plenty of spaces for employees to ask questions about the software until they feel comfortable.
  • Brace for unforeseen implementation challenges by having technologically savvy employees at the ready to help their coworkers with onboarding and specific questions. Many companies dedicate a few IT workers to this task so that employees have an internal number to call when issues arise.
  • Evaluate and refine the changes after they are implemented. Do not assume that a new workflow will automatically be successful, instead brace for there to be areas for growth and update accordingly.

Strategies for effective communication throughout the change process

The most important part of workflow is communication and collaboration, which is a major benefit of using third-party hub tools.

Teams can use hub tools to better communicate and share their own research and insights, while maintaining one central, easy-to-access location for all of their work. This decreases the need for meetings, improves overall visibility, and creates a faster-paced, more effective workflow. Without a central place to visualize this progress, a company’s efficient workflow process loses much of its power: teammates left in the dark will still be less productive than they would if they had access to a streamlined data hub.

MORE: The hidden cost of tab switching

Monitoring progress and identifying challenges in research workflow change management

After the new workflow has been implemented across an organization, it’s crucial to monitor and document the adaptation of those strategies.

For instance, employees could have regular check-ins with stakeholders where they report on their own personal experiences with the new tools. These regular evaluations can help a company continually refine workflow and understand if their new change is even effective. There might be unforeseen challenges raised—like technology hurdles or change resistance—that need to be addressed before assuming the change is successful.  

Proactive problem-solving and addressing research challenges

Companies can make use of regular team meetings and ongoing training sessions to make sure that their employees are actively using the new workflow tools. This can be done hand-in-hand with a third-party: consider checking user data through the software or bringing a representative in for refresher courses.

The first new workflow implemented will likely still have some hiccups—beyond simple user error or training lags—so monitoring bottle necks in the workflow and receiving regular feedback from employees is critical to getting ahead of any major challenges.

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that your researchers feel like any new tool is helping them do their research. After all, implementing a more efficient technology is not useful if researchers are still losing time to searching for information or compiling lists of data. Check in with your team to ensure that any change is increasing their productivity so your researchers can spend more time analyzing content to make a big impact.

Streamline your research and make your change management more efficient

One of the biggest hurdles to efficient workflow is proactively communicating change management processes. Even if individual researchers have effective routines, that progress is stilled if it there is a lack of communication or if procedures aren’t cohesive. Moreover, if employees are resistant to change for fear of losing copious amounts of data, it can be hard to convince employees to buy into the change in the first place.

As you’re trying to keep up with the pace of industry changes, technology is just one way to improve your change management systems to expedite your research workflow. Using a hub to collect data from multiple sources means you never risk lost research due to a change of platform. By organizing all your research in a single location, you’ll have a holistic view that makes it easier to notice trends, identify key insights, and prioritize what to highlight in your reports. Not to mention, saving you time and effort is exactly why you wanted to make a change in the first place.