Before jumping into a research study, you need to understand why the study should happen in a first place. Talk with your stakeholders and explicitly write down what they want to do after the study ends. Do they want to pick one of two design directions? Or are they trying to identify and address gaps in the experience? Perhaps they want to build something entirely new and just want to better understand a segment of users? Once you do this, you can start to frame questions to collect useful data.
Your team might not know what decision they want to take or everyone might have different ideas of what to do. This isn't a bad thing! Recognizing that your team isn't aligned can be insightful in and of itself. Discuss the product roadmap, market forces, larger company goals and current product analytics as a team to align on what to study.
Once you know what the team hopes to do after your study ends, you want to work with them to figure out what information will help take those actions. If your team needs to pick one of two design options, is it important to collect usability data alone or alongside how each design made users feel? Would knowing how often people use the latest feature help make decisions after a study?
While collecting the "right" information is a loaded sentence, the idea is to figure out what info from users will help make it easier to make those aligned decisions. In different contexts, the "right" information might be different or even be impossible to get. For example, if your design team wants to know how a user's eye moves as they view a design, it might be impossible to do this without eye-tracking software. If you know something can't be done given your constraints, inform the team early and try to pivot to more answerable questions.
Your team might not always know what's good to learn so be prepared to pitch research topics you could study. Just make sure those topics are directly tied to post-study decisions.
Once you know the decision and useful information to collect, it should be much easier to plan your study. Try to select research questions, methods and participants that are directly tied to that post-study decision. If you've already grouped informational needs into qual/quant buckets, picking methods should be fast.
Make sure to identify the constraints that you need to research within. This includes how long you can run your study, how easy is it to get participants, any study budgets and the types of research tools or software you have. Based on these constraints, you might have to study a qualitative informational need differently (such as remote interviews instead of traveling to a participant's location).
Write it all down into a research plan and get feedback/alignment on it before you start prepping for your study. Make sure to include the following topics in your research plan:
By focusing on the decisions and related informational needs, you set yourself up to conduct meaningful research. The sheer act of narrowing and aligning on what's important can not only bring your team together but make them excited to be a part of your research.