5 lessons on R&D planning we learned from field experience to speed up technological product release
During the past two years, in R&D consulting, we had a great pleasure to be a part of number of projects at different stages (planning, POC, bug fixing) and even initiated one with our internal resources. Most importantly, the projects we have been involved in taught us few good lessons:
Plan your R&D activity according to a well-defined product that your prospects wish to receive
To develop a new product, you need to have a proper understanding of your prospects’ perception of use, functionality, and price point. Otherwise, you will develop a new product for yourself and your prospects might not appreciate it.
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Whenever you choose possible technological approach, keep your eyes open for every possible technological solution. Rely on technological experts with a wide view of science and technology rather on experts in a particular field
Experts in particular field are extremely important since they have detailed knowledge and in-depth understanding of a certain topic. To get the best of them, you need to approach them with a well-defined questions and a throughout viewpoint of your product. Know that a general question will be answered by a generic answer that will not help you too much. On the other hand, technological experts, with wide view of science and technology, may suggest different approaches. Those approaches might even come from different fields. Attempting this unusual approaches may benefit you with swift and creative solutions to a specific product you intend to develop.
Choose at least two possible technological routes at the beginning as you may abandon one at later stages
R&D activities are the earliest and the most critical stage in product design cycle that dictates final product performance, functionality, and price. So take precaution and initiate at least two independent R&D routes or at least two independent feasibility studies in order to reduce risks. You can abandon one of them at a later stage. It will cost you in resources, but the price will be much higher if your new product is not delivered on time.
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Use your core technology but do not rely solely on it
You are the expert at what you know, your core knowledge-core technology. Using it should reduce the risk and the development time, but developing new product can require more. Your core-technology might not provide a full solution to your prospects needs; therefore, it should be accomplished with additional technological solutions.
Use virtual prototyping and simulations whenever it is possible
Virtual prototyping and simulations are common tools in engineering. But when it comes to more scientific areas, of Physics and material properties, it is much less familiar. This type of simulations is called Multiphysics simulations and they allow for accurate (or at least good enough) predictions of physical behavior of a real system without performing any actual experiments. This will allow you to run endless series of virtual experiments and perform optimization even without building a single prototype.
To summarize the lessons we have learned in one sentence: “Keep your eyes open to all technological directions and invest resources in proper planning of your R&D activity prior to any hands-on actions”