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10 Top Tips For Setting Up An R&D Department

Here we offer our 10 top tips for setting up an effective, cohesive R&D department in your company.

Cale Bannister

Marketing Manager


10 minute read

What makes forming an R&D department successful?

To unlock its full potential, every company needs a thriving research and development (R&D) department. Such teams are responsible for uncovering new ideas to drive growth—everything from creative designs to revenue-generating products and services. 

Developing the right mix of resources requires skillful leadership that instills an innovative culture at all levels - no matter how small or cost effective you need your R&D team to be.

Find success with our 10 top tips in building your very own successful R&D team!

1. Determine the Goals and Objectives for the R&D Department: 

Setting goals and objectives for the R&D Department is a critical process for any business looking to ensure their research and development initiatives are properly managed. 

This begins with understanding the current environment of the organisation and determining what changes should be made in order to achieve your desired results. 

By outlining measurable objectives, management can gain insight into which strategies are having an impact on products or services and lay out roadmaps for future investments. 

Additionally, these goals should be time bound and have well-defined criteria to evaluate success. The primary objective of creating such goals is to create a shared vision between all team members, so that everyone within the department can work towards the same goals and eventual success.

2. Develop a Team Structure for the Department:

Once you have established the goals and objectives of your research and development team, it’s time to develop a team structure & plan that will help make these goals achievable. 

Establishing a structure that includes roles, responsibilities, and expectations upfront will not only save time in the future but also ensure each project runs smoothly and efficiently. 

Depending on the size of the department and scope of projects, specific roles can be filled with individuals who bring different skill sets to the table. An additional factor to consider when developing the team structure is defining how teams might collaborate together; this could include creating task force subgroups or working in networks when needed. 

Ultimately, making sure that resources are readily available, appropriate timelines for completion are established, and all parties understand their duties will go a long way in ensuring a successful and productive research and development department.

3. Create a Process Flowchart 

Developing and maintaining up-to-date process information for research and development departments can be a challenging task for many organisations. 

A process flowchart can provide helpful insight into how work should be completed in your R&D department. It is the easiest way to document procedures because it provides high-level visuals that represent how multiple stages of the process work together. With clearly documented steps, complex processes become much easier to understand and visualise. 

Utilising tools such as swimlanes, Gantt charts and value stream mapping allows detailed information like resources, delivery of products/services, and operational budgets to be tracked easily. 

Furthermore, being able to quickly reference a visual representation of the process flow makes training new employees easier and more efficient while also increasing productivity within the department. 

By following standard procedures outlined in a simple yet effective flowchart, companies can take advantage of significant organisational benefits.

4. Establish Quality Assurance Procedures: 

Creating and maintaining effective quality assurance procedures within a research and development department is essential for providing the highest standard of service to customers. 

Quality assurance procedures provide a well-defined framework for testing, reviewing, and improving processes related to product design, manufacturing and procurement. As part of this process, it is paramount to involve teams from different areas of the organisation in order to leverage the knowledge and skills of employees across multiple disciplines. 

In addition, regular management reviews should be conducted to ensure that best practices are being consistently applied throughout the organisation. By taking these measures, an organisation can ensure that its research and development department is operating as efficiently as possible while producing top quality results.

5. Choose Appropriate Technology Stack

Research and Development departments typically require different tools and technologies than other departments within an organisation in order to meet their specific needs or requirements when developing products or services. 

Choosing the right technology stack for a research and development department is an essential decision that requires careful consideration of many factors such as the types of projects involved, the flexibility of the technology, the scalability and complexity of the architecture, and more. 

It is important to take into account not only today's needs, but future goals as well. Additionally, having a set of best practices in place is key to ensuring successful implementation. Researching and testing different technologies is vital to selecting the right long-term technology stack solution that meets current and future needs without sacrificing performance or reliability. 

To ensure success, it is important to understand both how existing solutions are being applied by others in your industry and how they can be customised to meet specific goals.

6. Set Up Internal Communications Procedures

The research and development department of any organisation plays a critical role in the company's success. For this reason, proper internal communications procedures must be put in place to ensure that maximum efficiency and effectiveness are achieved in its operations. 

Having proper protocols for communication between the research and development team and other departments can help people stay informed on project progress as well as make sure everyone is on the same page with regards to essential tasks. This includes regular meetings or calls between relevant stakeholders, email notifications about upcoming milestones or changes in direction related to a project/initiative, etc. 

Establishing clear guidelines makes it easier to assign responsibilities, discuss results, collaborate on projects and address issues so that the research and design department can reach its goals without delay. 

Properly communicating both internally within the company as well as with stakeholders outside of it is key to developing good products or services that promote positive change in customer satisfaction.

7. Establish Connections with External Partnerships

It may also be beneficial to establish connections with external partnerships that can provide additional resources or knowledge necessary for a successful research & development initiative within an organisation - such as universities offering courses related to topics relevant to R&D initiatives being undertaken by your company, industry experts who can provide insight into best practices related to product design/development processes, vendors offering specialised services that are needed in order for R&D initiatives succeed, etc.. 

8. Allocate Resources For Testing Purposes

Allocating resources for testing purposes is a crucial part of the development process for any research and development department. Time spent on proper testing helps avoid potential risks down the road and ensures that end products are accurate, reliable and high-quality. 

It can also help save money in the long run by avoiding costly pitfalls related to product recalls or redesigns. Furthermore, allocating resources to testing helps make sure that standards can be met quickly and effectively, allowing research and development departments to take full advantage of available resources while resolving any issues promptly. 

In short, resource allocation for testing purposes can be a powerful tool to maximise efficiency in research and development. 

9. Identify Relevant Industry Trends & Market Dynamics

A successful research & development team must also stay abreast of any relevant industry trends & market dynamics which could potentially affect their projects/initiatives either positively or negatively - this means regularly tracking new technologies emerging in their field of interest , understanding customer needs & expectations regarding certain topics related their current project , researching regulatory factors which might influence design decisions made during product development , etc.

10. Claim R&D funding to support your department's growth

Claiming research and development (R&D) funding in the form of R&D tax credits and R&D grants is essential for the success of any organisation’s R&D department. It provides the resources necessary to develop new technology, products, and services. 

Investing in R&D brings long-term benefits to organisations, enabling you to remain competitive in a rapidly changing market. Not only will this help you remain relevant, but investing in R&D can also lead to innovating new products which can create additional revenue streams for your business. R&D funding is not just important for businesses; universities and other educational institutions can use it to increase your research base and develop collaborations with other industries. 

Ultimately, claiming research and development funding helps organisations sharpen their competitive edge and facilitates economic growth.

Get in touch today

If you would like to discuss anything we’ve mentioned in this article, or about R&D funding options for companies across Ireland, simply use our contact form or call us on +353 1 566 2001. 

Alternatively, feel free to visit our R&D tax credits page or R&D grants page for more information on these funding options for your qualifying R&D activities.

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