The Challenges of Running a Successful R&D Team

The Real Challenges of Running a Successful R&D Team

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The Real Challenges of Running a Successful R&D Team

There are many challenges in running a successful in-house research and development (R&D) team, however one major challenge is determining the level of risk that can be taken with each project. Every new product or service can be seen as an investment, and the potential returns on that investment must be carefully calculated before any project is started.

While there are many factors that go into the decision to start a new project, the most important is the level of risk involved. Starting a new project is like moving into uncharted territory: you don’t know what’s going to happen, so it’s important to take a conservative approach and make sure that your team can manage any potential problems that may arise.

In this article, I am going to take a look at some of the most pressing needs of a successful in-house R&D team, and what can be done to address them.

So what are the most pressing challenges of a successful R&D team?


Nearly 50% of the R&D team managers that I’ve spoken to have said that they don’t have the resource or bandwidth or headspace to increase their productivity. This is a real problem because a lack of capacity can lead to a lack of innovation, which could potentially cause the company to lose out on significant revenue opportunities. To address this problem, companies that want to increase their R&D capacity should consider outsourcing some of their work to a company that specializes in Innovation-as-a-Service.

Why capacity is a pressing challenge:

Understaffed R&D teams are a concern for many industries because of the impact it can have on the ability of the team to deliver products and services that are high quality, on time, and in the quantities required to meet the demands of customers. Typically, projects and initiatives run by understaffed teams are less profitable than those led by well-resourced teams, and find it harder to create value for the company and the customers it serves. Attracting and retaining the best talent is also difficult for understaffed teams. The result is that the company ends up with a less-than-optimal mix of people, which can negatively impact the culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

A culture of innovation is important to the success of any company, but especially those in the R&D sector. Without a culture of innovation, a successful R&D team will not be able to adapt to a changing environment, and will be unable to take advantage of opportunities that arise.

Teams that are well-resourced, e.g. supplemented by Innovation-as-a-Service find that the ability to meet the demands of customers, create value, execute profitable projects, attract and retain the best talent, maintain a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, and deliver products and services that are competitively priced is greatly enhanced.

It is for these reasons that increased capacity, i.e. more people on the team, is one of the most pressing challenges facing successful R&D teams.


The other 50% of R&D team managers that I’ve spoken to have said that they don’t have the skillsets, the talent, or the tools in-house to create the kind of innovative products that they would like. As the global marketplace becomes ever more competitive, companies are looking for new ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. One way to do this is to find ways to innovate faster than the competition. To help companies reach this goal, Innovolo will work alongside (not replace) the R&D team to provide extra capacity and capability so that products can be developed and launched to the market faster than ever before.

Why capability is a pressing challenge:

Capability is a major challenge because the R&D team is the one that creates new technologies, new products and new services, and thus the success of an organization depends on its performance. This is why, apart from having a good leader or manager, a clear vision and mission statement, appropriate skills and talent, appropriate tools and equipment, adequate funding, continuous training and re-training, and adequate communication between all team members, teamwork, commitment and dedication are also needed in a successful R&D team.


It can be difficult to find an appropriate balance between confidentiality and collaboration within a large company. This is a real challenge for R&D teams, whose members will often need to collaborate with other teams within the company, as well as with outside vendors and suppliers. To help address this challenge, Innovolo will work with companies to develop an appropriate process for managing the confidentiality of all projects and intellectual property.

The battle of Confidentiality vs Open Innovation:

The first and foremost challenge for a successful R&D team is to keep the confidentiality of the project or the product. If there is the slightest leak, competitors can easily steal the project and run away with it. Confidentiality plays a vital role in the success of the team as it helps them to create something exclusive for the customers.

Finding the appropriate balance between confidentiality and collaboration within departments (especially in a larger organisation) is always a challenge. If there is a culture of collaboration and sharing, then the secrecy of the project can be easily compromised. But if there is complete confidentiality, then it becomes difficult to get the best out of every department. Sometimes, it is important to share the information to avoid redundancy and to make sure that everyone is working with the same information.

Open innovation is a strategic approach to innovation that companies can use to get around some of the challenges of confidentiality and collaboration. It involves using open platforms to create a community of innovators. This way, companies can even leverage the knowledge and capabilities of external innovators for their own projects.

Innovolo’s Innovation-as-a-Service is a hybrid model, merging confidentiality with open innovation by using a secure collaboration platform to bring together a community of vetted innovators, engineers and designers. The project is still confidential, but the company gets access to a huge pool of resources, which it would not have otherwise.

Project Management.

Project management is one of the most important and time-consuming aspects of running a successful R&D team. In order to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget, the R&D team manager must be able to effectively manage the team and the project plan.

Good, well-structured project management is crucial for the success of the entire R&D team. Without it, everyone would have to waste a lot of time and effort figuring out what to do next, and they would also be at risk of not achieving their goals.

A lot of people think that project management is a lot of unnecessary bureaucracy, but the fact is that it’s actually a necessary part of any successful business. It may not be as glamorous as the R&D itself, but it’s an essential part of the process, and everyone should be working towards making it as efficient and effective as possible.

To help R&D teams manage their projects, Innovolo offers an R&D Accountability Partner service (RAP) which provides project management support and holds the R&D team accountable to the Board.


The cost of developing a new product or service can be very high. If the company does not have the necessary capital on hand to finance these projects, then it will be difficult to get them off the ground.

Qualified, Verified Talent.

Finding a good team of qualified, verified talent to work on a project can be difficult. If the team you’ve assembled does not have the skills needed to create the product or service, you will end up spending a lot of time and money training them, which can slow your project down.


The Innovolo Innovation-as-a-Service team will help companies address each of these issues. Innovolo will work alongside (not replace) the R&D team to provide extra capacity and capability so that products can be developed and launched to the market faster than ever before. Innovolo will also help companies improve the effectiveness of their R&D team, by providing coaching and mentoring services, as well as by helping to manage the project plan and the team.

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