Over the years, public entities as well as private organizations have productively adopted project management models to achieve their respective research and development (R&D) goals. Project management processes can be integrated to build a complete system targeting R&D organizations. R&D projects must be managed effectively and resources aligned efficiently to deliver business plan. Project management encompasses phase gate process management, risk management, knowledge management, and intellectual property management, among others.
This paper aims to establish a proposal aims to establish a baseline for a comprehensive PMI-PMP framework that can be used to improve R&D processes.
R&D Project Characteristics
R&D processes are intricate, inter-reliant, and receptive to sudden alterations in research environment. Although the R&D management processes are principally qualitative in reality, outcomes are typically quantitative. For example, it is feasible to measure the quality of R&D projects by evaluating the scope to which the R&D project has achieved or surpassed customer needs. Furthermore, the process of monitoring and documenting R&D project performance differ considerably amongst programs and projects. For example, extensive capital projects follow flawless and certified process, with periodical landmarks and regular appraisal cycles.
PMI’s Five Phases in R&D Management
The project management entails five phases that can be adopted to improve R&D process management framework. These phases are discussed below:
Initiation phase. The formal initiation phase connects the R&D project to the continuing performance processes within the organization. An organization can launch an R&D project initiation phase for several reasons. These include: legal requirement; market demand; technological advancement; consumer request; and a business requirement.
Planning phase. This phase is critical to R&D processes since it entails conducting activities that have never been carried out before. There are various useful tools for R&D planning phase. They include:
- Product examination – it entails performing several procedures (i.e. value analysis and quality function deployment) to understand the product of the R&D project.
- Cost-benefit analysis – it entails calculating tangible and intangible returns and outlays of different projects. Financial measures are used to evaluate the relative viability of each alternative project.
There are basically two processes under this phase: Core processes and facilitating processes. The core processes include:
- Scope scheduling – preparing a scope outline for use in forthcoming project decision.
- Scope description – partitioning the key R&D project deliverables into convenient units.
- Resource scheduling – deciding the type of resources and the amount required to execute R&D project activities.
- Cost projection – estimating the costs of the resources required to execute the R&D project.
The facilitating processes entail the following activities:
- Quality planning – establishing the appropriate quality standard for the project and finding out ways to accomplish them.
- Organizational arrangement – selecting, recording and allocating R&D project responsibilities and duties.
- Staff procurement – identifying qualified human resource pool to work on the R&D project.
- Communication scheduling – establishing the communication and information requirements of the R&D participants.
Executing phase. It entails the following activities:
- Executing the project plan – The R&D project plan is implemented.
- Scope confirmation – the project scope is formally acknowledged.
- Quality assurance – a comprehensive assessment is done to ascertain the overall performance of the R&D project to ensure that quality standards are observed.
- Information dissemination – ensuring that project stakeholders can access R&D project data on time.
Controlling and monitoring phase. It is important to appraise R&D project performance regularly in order to detect deviances from the initial plan. If considerable deviances are discerned, the plan must be altered appropriately by replicating suitable project planning activities. There are several processes that interrelate under this phase:
- Comprehensive change control – this activity entails synchronizing adjustments within the whole R&D project.
- Scope change control – this process entails supervising adjustments to the R&D project plan.
- Cost control – it involves monitoring adjustments to the project’s budget
- Quality control – this process involves coordinating specific project outcomes to ascertain if they conform to the pertinent quality standards.
Closing phase. The project is officially acknowledged and brought to an orderly conclusion. It includes the following activities:
- Administrative closing – information is produced, collected and disseminated to validate project completion.
- Agreement close-out – the agreement is completed and any outstanding issues are resolved amicably.
R&D Management Framework
The R&D management is a PMI-PMP baseline recommended for optimizing the R&D project. It encompasses several processes:
Innovation. It is widely acknowledged that innovation in R&D perspective can yoke the inventive horsepower within and outside the organization to create more innovative ideas. It entails four aspects: (1) processes- innovation plan, ideation process, and encouraging innovation culture within the organization; (2) organization alignment- harmonizing key sources of invention; (3) tools- entails managing ideas, project selection and initiation, and rewards programs; and (4) measures- entails measuring number of ideas produced, R&D budget, and number of externally sourced ideas.
Intellectual property management. Intellectual property must be managed effectively to generate the desired value within the organization. The processes involved in IP management include knowledge management, IP protection strategy and IP commercialization. Organizational alignment of IP include harmonizing financial, marketing and IT aspect of the organization. There are various tools that must be used in IP management. They include taxonomies, search applications, and knowledge management systems. Finally, IP management should be measured using portfolio value, expected value from patent portfolio and revenues produced from IP licensing.
Sourcing. Managing performance relationships with designers, producers and vendors can improve IP management. This can be accomplished via global sourcing, component selection, and innovation sourcing strategy. Other activities that must be addressed under this process include supply chain, quality and purchasing management. Furthermore there are various tools that must be used to evaluate this process. They include product data records and merchant certification and PLM software.
Knowledge management. Sound knowledge management must be adopted to ensure that the R&D project is implemented successfully. Some of the salient activities that must be performed under this process include competency management and talent acquisition aligning human resource pool to R&D project, and evaluating knowledge management using various tools such as R&D leadership valuation, training programs and reward system.
Regulatory & compliance. The R&D project must conform to quality and regulatory standards and incorporated into the product lifecycle. In order to achieve this goal, the organization must develop compliance audits and regulatory compliance plan and align legal, manufacturing, and purchasing processes into an R&D perspective. There are various tools that the organization can use to measure the regulatory and compliance process. They include manufacturing execution systems (MES), knowledge management, and product life cycle management (PLM).
R&D operations. The organization must formulate, finance and manage R&D operations to optimize ROI. For instance, it must define its organizational structure and sub-processes in terms of quality, packing, and design. In addition, the organization must harmonize all activities that contribute to R&D operations and use tools such as process improvement methods, R&D systems, and PLM to measure its R&D operation performance.
Portfolio management. The organization must define its R&D strategic objectives and assign resources to improve R&D project performance. Portfolio management must encompass several activities including initiative prioritization, resource management, and portfolio management. In addition, the organization must align its supply chain with marketing plans during this phase. Lastly, portfolio management must be evaluated using financial tools such as NPV, ROI and payback period.
Given the escalating significance of technology today, the role of R&D has become a relevant issue in virtually all business activities since it must take into consideration not only business and consumer needs but also address the general societal requirements. Consequently, a comprehensive research in this topic must be undertaken given the significance of R&D in business activities.
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