In the context of portfolio and project management, Research & Development comprises the entire process of idea generation, research for new technologies and products, and the development of new products for the mass market. In contrast with product development projects, where development and manufacturing are based on concrete customer requests, R&D projects are usually under much higher risk and require significant capital investments.
The key project and portfolio management topics in Research and Development are:
“The TPG solution enables our department heads to better plan the deployment of their employees. They are now able to respond to R&D project requests with accurate information on employee availability. Bottlenecks are easily identifiable, allowing them to avoid overscheduling these resources.”
Detlef Teuteberg, Business Process Consultant R&D, Global IT, Otto Bock SE & Co. KGaA
Microsoft PPM (Project Server / Project Online) and Planisware PPM are well-suited and commonly used centralized solutions for project management in R&D. They facilitate project and portfolio management, risk management, resource management and team collaboration.
In the context or portfolio management, market trends and strategic objectives are decisive for the selection of the most promising research projects. Microsoft Project Server can help align projects and programs with strategic business drivers and discover the skills needed to execute the selected R&D project portfolio.
Microsoft SharePoint can help manage risks, build workflows and perform team collaboration. The latter has become extremely important for R&D lately, since teams are more and more distributed across multiple sites and geographies.
The R&D business requires high investments. Companies usually allocate R&D funds to their R&D departments, which at their end have to distribute R&D budgets to the programs and projects. This top-down budget allocation approach is supported by a bottom-up budget request by the projects.
The integration of the PPM solution with the ERP system can help with the budget request process. Once projects have been selected and the budget approved, the integration will help to periodically transfer cost forecasts of all projects to the ERP system and enable a reliable budget control for the entire R&D budget.
Internal costs are usually a significant portion of the total costs in R&D projects; hence, time tracking is important for controlling. In most cases, time tracking is done in the PPM tool and transferred to the ERP system.
Middleware products can help integrate Microsoft Project Server / Project Online, SharePoint, Planisware and other systems with ERP systems seamlessly and at reasonable cost.
More about TPG PSLink®.
In many research and development projects, the complexity and interdependence of the results require the creation of programs consisting of several projects.
Top-down and bottom-up program communication will help to set the program targets for single projects, track the key milestones and results of the single projects, and gain visibility.
Planisware, Microsoft Project Server / Project Online (along with proven add-ons) can help with managing multi-project interactions as well as program management.
R&D activities are often performed in special competence teams, laboratories or a similar type of knowledge group in the organization. These teams usually work for many projects simultaneously and team members have to be allocated to projects by their team leader.
Project managers will request skills from the competence teams, which in turn will plan their team members across general tasks and projects. Team leaders will commit people to project managers for certain time periods.
Microsoft Project Server / Project Online along with proven add-ons can help with requesting team members and committing them to projects.
More about TPG TeamManager.