How to kick off your research project like a rock star: The Research Plan Canvas

Download The Research Plan Canvas here
  1. Download the Canvas and then upload it to a digital whiteboard to work with it. Either work with sticky notes or write into the boxes.
  2. Fill out the canvas together with key stakeholders (workshop), or let them fill it out as much as they can, so you can examine the input and get back with clarifying questions.
  3. Send the final research plan to all stakeholders and get it signed off (PM & Design + challenged by UXR)
  1. Rational: find out the reason why this project has been asked for and by whom. Ideally, the business and team’s reasons overlap, but sometimes they are contrary, which indicates something is wrong. Also ask for what the assumed user problem is, whether there is evidence and why the problem is worth solving.
  2. Business Outcome: which area of the business shall the project impact? To which of your company or team OKRs does this project contribute? Discuss whether the answers to the questions the team has pays contributes to the OKRs. Otherwise drop the project!
  3. Project phase: identify where in the Product Development Life Cycle the project is. Contrary questions are a red flag. For example testing the usability of a feature and its desirability. Challenge the team on what they really want to know and ask for any prior research on the topic.
  4. Project prioritisation: if you cannot accept all research requests, you need to prioritise. For that, ask the team who wants research to answer the questions that are listed in this segment, inter alia can we act on the insights immediately (what are the bottle necks: IT/ Design/€ capacities)? Answering these questions will help you and the team realise how important, impactful and urgent research really is.
  5. Key questions: what are the questions the team has? Usually the team has too many, irrelevant or the wrong questions. Help them to focus. Your job is to challenge and re-fine the questions, so that they can be answered and that the answer to the questions can be used to take action that will benefits the company and the user.
  6. Research success: when will the research project be successful? Define this clearly and make sure whether and how you can measure success. Who will be the person to measure research impact and share it (PM, Marketing, Data, Research)? Align on these matters.
  7. Assumptions: First, brainstorm with the team on the relevant assumptions the have about the customers, the business and the tech side. List some example assumptions that serve as an ice breaker. Second, map the assumptions to identify the ones that are critical. Third, align how to validate/ test critical assumptions. After having done this, go back to your research questions and compare whether the critical assumptions match the research questions.
  8. Stakeholders: Identify with the team key stakeholders for this project, their roles and how their performance is measured. This helps you understand what kind of information and outcome they are looking for. Also ideate and align on how to involve them and communicate with them best. Which of the stakeholders needs to be involved in the research, who needs a regular update or only the final results and always ask: why?
  9. Recruitment criteria: understand what kind of participants you need to recruit to answer your research questions. Consider screener questions to filter the right participants and note from which source you will be recruiting.
  10. UX methods: define which method you will use to answer the respective research question. Ask yourself once more: will the method provide an answer to our research question and will that answers help us achieve our business goal/ OKR?
  11. Hard deliverables: discuss with the team what kind of artefact they need and why. What will they use it for, how and when? Answering these questions can save you plenty of time. Align with the team so they know what you’ll deliver. Perhaps a lengthy report is unnecessary and a simple list if insights suffices to act fast.
  12. Timeline: now that you have all information you need, you can prepare a timeline and align with the team on it.
  13. Research statement: summarise the information on your canvas in a comprehensive research statement, so that everyone who reads this statement know what the research project is about.

If this is the first time you work as a team, use the Team Canvas after having completed the Research Canvas. This will help you align on rules and preferences of collaboration, which can avoid a lot of frustration.

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