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Involving multiple teams on projects is a great way to obtain diverse perspectives and combine expertise for a successful research outcome. At Fors Marsh Group, we have the opportunity to incorporate researchers from different divisions onto project teams in order to better serve our clients. While this approach is not necessary for all of our projects, it can provide a client with improved solutions as teams learn from each other and build relationships across research areas.

In my own experience, we have had very strong success with multi-team projects, especially on those in which our teams carefully communicate the research goals, schedules, and processes. Here are a few examples of cases where these approaches have worked at FMG:

  • IRS Transcripts Focus Groups. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was interested in learning more about the users of their tax transcript service on IRS.gov. In order to learn more about who requests tax transcripts and why, the IRS called for one-on-one interviews and focus groups with people who request tax transcripts as part of their job. Our team, the Personnel and Development team, is very experienced in performance evaluation, customer satisfaction, and human capital (leadership, training, etc.) work. We are also very familiar with working with the IRS and conducting one-on-one interviews, however, moderating focus groups is a different skill. We reached out to our RIVA-trained colleagues on the Consumer Experience team to help us develop a moderator guide and conduct the focus groups. These same colleagues then worked with us to shape the second phase of this project, during which FMG conducted brainstorming sessions for the first time. The sessions involved a series of iterative thought exercises for each type of tax transcript user (taxpayers, IRS employees, and third-party stakeholders) to gather ideas for an ideal tax transcript service and ultimately provide feedback to the IRS. As the content experts, our team was able to combine our knowledge of the client’s interests with content gleaned from interviews and focus group research to inform the second phase of data collection.
  • U.S. Coast Guard Communication Audit. FMG was asked to help the U.S. Coast Guard develop an internal enterprise-wide communication strategy for all levels of communication practices and procedures. This effort had a very short turnaround and involved members of four different FMG teams. The approach that emerged on this project was to have one FMG team own and be responsible for one project task. However, the tasks were so interdependent that it required teams to come together and combine their technical expertise and content knowledge to inform simultaneously developing project pieces. Our team and the Communication Research team engaged in heavy coordination and collaboration to both complete a literature review and benchmark best practices for internal strategic communication plans in government and military service organizations. The Communication Research team and our partner organizations on the contract organized and conducted focus groups to better understand current communication practices and develop a communication framework. These two teams engaged our Consumer Experience team to provide recommendations on already existing communication methods such as organization websites. Finally, the Communication Research team and Marketing team collaborated to create and present the implementation plan. The clients were very satisfied with the plan and were receptive to the provided recommendations. They even discussed future work to aid in the implementation of the communication plan.

To learn more about our work in customer experience, performance evaluation, homeland security, public policy analysis, or any other market, visit our markets page.

About the author

Tina Kurian

Tina Kurian

Tina Kurian joined Fors Marsh Group in 2010. She has worked on the Department of Defense's Influencer and Reserve surveys for the Ad Tracking Study, which measures awareness, reactions, and impressions of military ads. Tina has worked on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Career Mapping project analyzing jobs and creating career profiles for a career exploration and mapping site. She currently works on the NIST MEP Client Survey, IRS customer satisfaction surveys, and the General Services Administration (GSA) customer loyalty study assisting with survey development, data collection, data analysis, and briefings.

Tina graduated from George Mason University with an M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. While studying at GMU, she worked at Defense Manpower Data Center and at HumanR, Inc., where she gained experience in managing surveys in the field, data analysis, and reporting. Tina also attended the University of Maryland, where she earned her bachelor's degree in Psychology and Criminology, with a minor in French. During her time there, she was involved with social psychology research on group decision making, industrial/organizational psychology research on the training needs of graduate psychology students who are required to teach undergraduates (ADOPT Initiative), and criminology research involving network analysis on gangs.

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