Do you think your company’s R&D efforts of bad business dragon’s dogma could be more efficient, or that they’re not being optimized in a way that creates the most value? With competition fierce and markets changing rapidly, it’s important to continually review and improve how your innovation efforts are managed.
Here are 10 best practices for managing business research and development:
1. Establish a strong portfolio management process.
Know what you’re doing, and don’t waste time carrying out activities that won’t contribute to your long term business strategy. The Internet, mobile and social media have created new channels for delivering information, transforming customer experiences and creating new channels for innovation. But these new channels can also lead to mismanagement of resources and lost opportunities if businesses don’t properly manage their existing ones.
2. Use analytics to improve the effectiveness of your R&D strategy.
If you’re not tracking how expenses are being spent against your business plan, then you’re not optimally utilizing your R&D budget’s budgeting process. All large companies spend a lot of money on R&D, and face the challenge of continually choosing among growing and diverse business opportunities. They have to do this while still delivering profitable growth to shareholders.
3. Develop skills across your company, but also on a “per project” basis by hiring specialists from outside.
Rather than having everyone in your company become generalists, you’re probably better off having a small team that’s very good, supplemented by a larger team that’s good at what they’re hired for (and not told to be more than they are). The generalist route often leads to mediocre results because it hopes your non-specialists will somehow figure out the proper actions specialists would know to take.
4. Identify your “key” technologies, and focus on them.
Which technologies are most important to your company’s future? The decisions you make about which ones to develop should be based on solid scientific analysis of your market environment and the likely impact they will have. Make sure you clearly understand how each of your key technologies will contribute to the future value you’ll generate for your business and its stakeholders.
5. Segment development projects into functional areas.
If your organization is big enough, there’s a very good chance that many projects have common characteristics that can help streamline their management. For example, all projects related to “Product A” might have similar needs in their processes and resources.
6. Lead by example.
Your company’s research and development efforts will only be as strong as your top leadership displays. Any failure in the leadership of R&D will be multiplied by the number of staff following them and by the amount of resources they’re responsible for spending. Before you can ask a team to do something, you’ve got to be doing it yourself. If you want your company’s workforce to focus on results rather than time spent at the office, then make sure that one of the first places you instill this value is with yourself and your immediate staff.
7. Ensure each team member is competent and motivated, and can work independently or collaboratively as needed.
As a leader if you don’t trust a person to get results with minimal supervision, they shouldn’t be on your team because they’re not adding value (and possibly making things worse). If people don’t feel they can contribute, they’re either not a good fit or they’re doing something that is detracting from the team’s effectiveness.
8. Train your staff to be leaders.
This applies to everyone in your organization, including management and technical staff. Educate people about their roles and responsibilities, and help them earn credibility among their peers by demonstrating that knowledge is both important and achievable. Encourage even those at the lowest levels of the organizations to take ownership of projects in which they are involved, and make sure that everyone knows who’s responsible for what – especially with respect to deadlines for deliverables.
9. Trust the process; ensure it’s properly followed and monitored throughout the development lifecycle.
Having clear expectations for what you want completed and the process through which it should be done is essential to delivering results from your R&D budget. Processes have to begin with a clear understanding of what needs to be done, when it needs to happen, and how the work will get done.
10. Prioritize results over resources.
Research and development is a strategic business process. You can’t assume that spending more resources in your R&D activities will provide any greater value than investing less in those opportunities. In fact, using resources more effectively may actually deliver greater value because you’re less likely to waste them on unimportant or ineffective endeavors.
R&D is a vital part of a company’s overall business strategy and is critical to your success as an organization. However, without consistent attention to budget management and development you could fall behind your competitors or find that the results of your R&D are actually decreasing in value. Managing R&D activities in your business is important, but it’s also a highly strategic endeavor. By implementing these 10 best practices, you’re not only improving your effectiveness in the current moment, you’re setting the stage for success for years to come.