There are many excellent tools and techniques for R&D management, but all too often people re-invent the wheel as knowledge of these gems is not shared.
Here are some of the tools that RADMA trustees and contributors to R&D Today have found useful, but we are keen to know what has been missed or what others think of these tools.
Tools for R&D management
- Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
- Kano Model
- Net Present Value (NPV)
- Quality Function Deployment (QFD)
- Scenario planning
- Scoring methods for technology and project prioritisation
- Stage-Gate Product Innovation Process
- TRIZ (theory of inventive problem solving)
FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis)
FMEA facilitates risk reduction when designing, or improving the design of, products, processes and systems.
Description: FMEA is a systematic approach to assessing the potential sources of product, process and system failure, together with their consequences.
Sources of further information: https://www.isixsigma.com/tools-templates/fmea/quick-guide-failure-mode-and-effects-analysis/
Kano Model Technique for determining customer and prospect’s satisfaction with product features.
Description: Kano Model is based on the ideas and techniques developed by Noriaki Kano, a Japanese researcher and consultant who published a paper in 1984 These ideas are based upon the following premises: Customers’ Satisfaction with our product’s features depends on the level of Functionality that is provided (how much or how well they’re implemented); A weighting is used to define the levels of satisfaction
- Satisfaction. Kano proposes a dimension that goes from total satisfaction (also called Delight and Excitement) to total dissatisfaction (or Frustration).
- Functionality. Also called Investment, Sophistication or Implementation, it represents how much of a given feature the customer gets and how well its implemented it.
- Performance. How the expected functionality is rated by the customer
More information: The Complete Guide to the Kano Model Prioritizing Customer Satisfaction and Delight https://foldingburritos.com/kano-model/
NPV (net present value)
Net present value is a method of calculating your return on investment, or ROI, for a project or expenditure. By looking at all of the money you expect to make from the investment and translating those returns into today’s dollars, you can decide whether the project is worthwhile.
Description: When a manager needs to compare projects and decide which ones to pursue, there are generally three options available: internal rate of return, payback method, and net present value.
Net present value, often referred to as NPV, is the tool of choice for most financial analysts. This is because NPV considers the time value of money, translating future cash flows into today’s dollars. In addition it provides a number that can be used to easily compare an initial outlay of cash against the present value of the return.
Quality Function Deployment – House of Quality
QFD is considered one of the best management tools available for clarifying the ‘Voice of the Customer’ in relation to the development of a proposed new product or service. It is used by many global companies, such as Hewlett Packard, Ford and ITT. Although the approach originated in Mitsubishi’s Kobe shipyard, the set of cross-functional product planning routines are now applied to new product developments across most sectors. The original article by John Hauser & Don Clausing in Harvard Business Review provides an excellent summary of the approach.
Description: QFD enables cross-functional product development teams to gather key information such as:
- Which attributes of the customer’s ‘wants’ are more or less important for any given requirement?
- What are the measurable goals for the product and do any conflict with each other?
- To what extent is the customer prepared to compromise on the original specifications?
- Which options have the potential to ‘delight’ the company’s customers?
- A populated House of Quality matrix provides the opportunity for all stakeholders to negotiate any proposed compromises.
Of interest to: R&D Managers, Product Development, Marketing, Customer Services
Sources of further information: The website qfdonline.com is a very comprehensive and well structured resource covering most aspects of QFD for Product Developers and their Managers, Suppliers and Customers.
Roadmapping tools are used to align and plan, enabling different groups or disciplines to achieve consensus on how best to move forward and realise a vision.
Description: The concept provides a metaphorical image of a roadmap being used to navigate a business through partly known/unknown territories. It provides a structured visual framework as an aid to understanding and communication within a business process.
It has a number of strands:
- Supporting strategy and innovation in technology-intensive firms
- Enabling cross-functional dialogue, consensus building and communication
- Driving forward change through a planning-oriented format
- Adapting to company context and purpose through a flexible systems-based framework. The technology roadmapping approach was originally developed by Motorola more than 35 years ago to improve synchronisation of technology and product development. Since then the approach has been adopted (and adapted) by many firms in many industries for supporting innovation and strategy, and is also widely applied the sector level, sponsored by trade associations, government departments and other agencies.
- Visualising strategy. The use of visual methods can be very beneficial for supporting cross-functional (and cross-organisational) dialogue, consensus building and communication, enabled by the holistic multi-layered structure of roadmaps, which are typically associated with different stakeholder perspectives.
Sources of information:
Roadmapping for Strategy and Innovation https://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/insights/roadmapping/roadmapping-for-strategy-and-innovation/
T-Plan: the fast start to Technology Roadmapping.
Planning your route to success https://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/insights/roadmapping/t-plan/
Scenario planning is a strategic planning method that can be used to make flexible long-term plans. It has its origin in the methods used by military intelligence to generate simulation games for policy makers.
The methods combine known facts about the future, such as demographics, geography, military, political, industrial information, and mineral reserves, with key driving forces identified by considering social, technical, economic, environmental, and political trends. Within a business context there is less emphasis on gaming the behaviour of opponents, but this type of strategic thinking can be useful when considering consumer reactions or competition.
Scenario planning may also involve aspects of systems thinking, recognising that many factors may combine in complex ways to create sometime surprising futures and allows the inclusion of factors that are difficult to formalize, such as novel insights shifts in values, unprecedented regulations or inventions.
Of interest to: R&D Managers, Marketing Managers, Project Leaders and the Executive Portfolio Review Panel
Scoring methods for technology and project prioritisation
It is vital in the early stages of technology or innovation projects to be able to decide which projects to pursue and which to shelve, however there is often minimal information available.
There are a number of scoring methods available that provide an objective way to rank projects across a number of criteria. It is important to manage the scoring process carefully to avoid cognitive biases. The results can be plotted in different ways to help the decision process.
Rick Mitchell, Rob Phaal, Nicky Athanassopoulou have developed one approach that have created a practice oriented working paper which provides guidance on how to make the best use of the information that exists and shows how to design an appropriate scoring tool for any particular case. It enables the R&D Manager and others to assess the project against a number of appropriate factors and allotting scores to each.
- the importance of treating measures of Opportunity and Feasibility separately
- how to choose the factors;
- how to ensure that the scoring is as logical and objective as possible
- how to include the inevitable uncertainty
- how to manage the process, including the treatment of portfolio-level considerations such as ‘balance’.
More information: A useful working paper “Scoring methods for evaluating and selecting early stage technology and innovation projects” was produced by the Centre for Technology Management by Rick Mitchell, Rob Phaal, Nicky Athanassopoulou, IfM ECS it gives a more in depth look at this tool.
Stage-Gate Product Innovation Process
The Stage-Gate model takes the often complex and chaotic process of taking an idea from inception to launch and breaks it down into:
- Stages – where project activities are conducted
- Gates – where business evaluations and Go/Kill decisions are made
It was developed by product innovation experts Robert Cooper and Scott Edgett and is widely used in industry.
Description: The Stage-Gate model is based on the belief that product innovation begins with ideas and ends once a product is successfully launched into the market.
The Stage-Gate model incorporates:
- Pre-development Activities – business justification and preliminary feasibilities
- Development Activities – technical, marketing, and operations development
- Commercialization Activities – market launch and post launch learning
Of interest to: For more information Stage Gate International – https://www.stage-gate.com/
TRIZ (theory of inventive problem solving)
TRIZ is a problem solving toolkit that stimulates creativity.
Description: TRIZ is the Russian acronym for a phrase translated as the ‘Theory of Inventive Problem Solving’ Developed in 1946 by soviet inventor Genrich Altshuller and his colleague.
The tools direct the team to:
- find many ways to solve a problem
- find new concepts and the routes for developing new products.
- see solution triggers distilled from analysing all known engineering success
- understand problems and user requirements
More information: Oxford Creativity www.triz.co.uk/what/why-use-triz
There are many others for example:-
Agile project management
The concept of ‘agile’ was first adopted by the software industry to reflect a new iterative approach to development that allowed the solution to evolve. It provides a rapid and flexible response to change. Agile was popularised by the Manifesto for Agile Software Development or ‘Agile Manifesto’, an intentionally streamlined expression of the core values of agile project management.
Description: The idea of agile development has been adopted by other industries where a flexible approach is required but is considered risky in many settings. Of interest to:
More information: Agile Project Management Handbook v2.0 Author: DSDM Consortium Publisher: DSDM Consortium
The Change Equation states that in order for change to occur, dissatisfaction with the status quo, a clear vision, and first steps towards the vision must be greater than the resistance to change.
D x V x F >R
D = Dissatisfaction with the status quo; V = Vision of what is possible; F = First, concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision. R = If any of these factors are missing or weak, then you’re going to get resistance.
It was developed by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher, and shows us how to engage individuals at all stages of the change process in order to achieve successful organisational change.
Description: Transforming a vision into tangible business improvements means first preparing people that will be impacted. Steps are grouped into short- and long-term “SMART” goals – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound actions. Those affected by change must be convinced that the change is desirable, purposeful, and executable. Make sure to delegate accountability, communicate quick wins, celebrate milestones, and recognise people for their hard work along the road of organisational change.
More information: http://www.greatleadershipbydan.com/2009/01/beckhards-change-equation.html
Project Portfolio Management
Offers a rigorous approach to managing the company’s portfolio of projects, to ensure both effective delivery of individual projects and optimised returns on the overall investment in the portfolio. Description: Project Portfolio Management provides senior managers and project managers with important insights into how individual projects are progressing and on the overall health of the project portfolio for the future.
It achieves this through the adoption of a systematic approach which includes the following elements:
- Senior executive with overall responsibility for delivering the project portfolio
- Support from a portfolio manager with day-to-day responsibility for engaging with project teams on progress, spend and issues to be resolved
- Portfolio reviews quarterly with a major review at year end.
- A well structured set of both qualitative and quantitative decision criteria covering aspects such as risk, project budget required, fit with strategy and project team competencies (internal and through external partnerships).
Of interest to: R&D Managers, Marketing Managers, Project Leaders and the Executive Portfolio Review Panel
Sources of further information: Ten Best Practices in Portfolio Management, Author: John T Walker (Navigant Consulting) Innovation Framework: Suppliers of Product Development Software and Innovation Software. www.innovation-framework.com