What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about research and development (R&D) in your business?

Most of the time, you’ll immediately go to product-based research, but R&D can (and should) be so much more than that. There are myriad aspects of your business where innovation will make a huge difference, not only with your products and services, but also in more broad terms, such as the efficacy of your customer flow and systems that can help your business run more smoothly.

At the end of the day, R&D is about taking what you have and doing the necessary research to enhance capabilities and be more efficient, and that is important to all business owners, regardless of company size or industry. In my experience, there are three important steps (and time-savers) to implement a successful and effective R&D strategy for your business:

1. Build a clear strategic framework.

As I’m sure many entrepreneurs can attest, there’s usually no shortage of good ideas being thrown around about how to improve your business.

So, the first step toward building your strategic framework is to resist the urge to “boil the ocean,” and understand which aspects of your business you need to focus R&D around. Ask yourself what the current business demands are in order for you to reach your goal, then identify the limitations you’re facing and what you need to change or improve upon in order to achieve the desired result. Once you know where you are and where you want to go and have clarity on your goals and objectives, you can start drilling down on your approach, determinants of success, measurements and reporting.

I believe that strategy is all about allocation of scarce resources, so you want to be selective, test appropriately, analyze the metrics and, if something isn’t working, be able to identify where you need to pivot and make sure you have the resources available to do so.

2. Assign a dedicated R&D team to manage the strategy.

Having a dedicated team to manage R&D with carefully assigned roles and responsibilities will help determine whether or not your R&D program is implemented effectively. Everyone on the team needs to know the structure of the group and who is responsible for researching, designing, and implementing the new product, process or service; and, perhaps most importantly, they need to know how it’s being tested. You’ll also want to define who is accountable for making the “go” or “no go” decisions and ensure everyone understands those firm decision-making points. That way, you can measure when something is working or when it needs to be changed.

Now, this doesn’t mean you need 100%-dedicated roles­. If you’re a small business that isn’t big enough for a dedicated team, the important piece here is having some measure of accountability. You need to have a clear idea of who is responsible for driving the program forward and clear milestones to measure your progress against so it doesn’t become an afterthought when other aspects of the business start calling for attention.

Read the full article published in Forbes by Chief Development Officer, Matthew Stanton by clicking here.

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