Research and development (R&D) needs to be carefully planned and managed to succeed. It is easy to waste money on developing ideas that go nowhere, but getting it right can lead to business stability, security and long-term profits.
Planning for R&D
You should include R&D in your overall business plan. The plan should illustrate the direction you want the business to take and how R&D fits in with your other business activities. Set out clear objectives, time frames and budgets, including resources you are willing to commit to your R&D efforts.
A clear plan can prevent the project straying from your business goals and wasting valuable resources and money. See how to prepare a business plan for growth.
You may need to involve staff with specific skills to draw up the plan, for example, finance staff to set up budgets. You may also need outside help. Read more about exploring your ideas.
Your plan should set out the steps that need to be taken from the inception of the ideas to the product launch.
You should allocate the necessary resources to the project, including funding, staff and time. You might decide to set up a specific team to work on the project. Read about budgets and business planning.
Managing your R&D
Good management is vital to reduce risk of failure and realise as many ideas as possible. To manage R&D projects effectively you should:
- make sure staff involved in R&D understand the business' overall strategy
- ensure these employees understand what is commercially realistic
- assess the changing risks and potential of projects as they progress, continually developing a rigorous business case
- ensure that intellectual property ownership issues are resolved
- recognise when a project isn't going to work and eliminate ideas that are not viable
- understand the relative importance of different projects to your business
Support might be available from Invest Northern Ireland (NI) to help with scoping, defining and planning an R&D project. Find out about Invest NI's R&D support for business