Research and development is likely to be integral to your business.
From the welcome subsidisation of tax credits to spearheading industry innovation with successful projects, R&D boasts a range of benefits to the professional landscape.
This power to reinvigorate business and industry is the reason the UK Government is placing so much emphasis on R&D as part of its post-pandemic economic recovery. Recently, the Government pledged to increase public R&D investment to a record high of £20bn by 2024-5.
Of course, sectors responded differently to the international outbreak of Covid-19, with some businesses increasing their R&D spending while others cut the cord completely.
All of this makes finding efficiencies in your R&D processes more important than ever, so you can optimise research and development opportunities by maximising your use of limited resources.
That’s why, today, we’re exploring 4 ways you can free up resources in your R&D department, helping your manpower and output go further when conducting research and development activity.
Delegate smaller tasks
Tasks that take R&D professionals away from their specialist areas can significantly impact efficiency and productivity in a technical environment.
Workers in your R&D team are likely to be experts in their field, meaning they’ll have a valuable (and, in many instances, unique) skillset. This makes them essential to the activity you conduct, from the validation of a competent professional to the accuracy of your technical narrative.
Distracting your expert staff with mundane and non-technical tasks throughout their working day is a sure-fire way to slow down your progress and negatively impact your success.
For example, did you know that workers who manage, create, or edit documents for a company can spend up to 2.5 hours every day just searching for the documents they need?
Consider how admin-based and low-priority tasks such as these can be delegated (or even outsourced) to non-technical staff. This will free up your highly valuable R&D team to spend more time utilising their specialist expertise, enabling your business to conduct not only more R&D but higher-value R&D, too.
As a rule of thumb, for the most efficient approach to R&D, leverage the technical expertise of your R&D team to focus solely on activities that drive business growth, revenue and innovation.
Manage the pipeline
To effectively manage resources within your research and development team, you need to have a thorough understanding of your business’s R&D landscape.
This means your team should be headed by dedicated R&D managers who have a total command of both your current and future research and development ambitions.
This is commonly referred to as managing an R&D pipeline.
A strategic and systematic approach to research and development is integral to managing and freeing up resources within your R&D team. It enables you to identify opportunities and understand priorities, allowing you to allocate resources more effectively.
To do this successfully, the focus should be placed on alignment, balance and maximum return. Look to include a mixture of short-term and long-term projects with a worthwhile risk-reward balance.
Find this equilibrium by weighing up short-term gains against long-term uncertainties and the scope for profit.
Get this right and you’ll have a better understanding of the potential value each R&D project provides, helping you improve efficiencies through more purposeful resource allocation.
Identify skill gaps
Gaps in knowledge and skill can cause significant disruption to your internal efficiencies, taking up valuable time and resources within your R&D team as a result.
Identifying and addressing these skill gaps is key. Start by assessing your current team and processes - are there unnecessary pain points having to be consistently overcome?
Consider solutions that upskill team members and improve processes around the obtaining and sharing of knowledge.
Be sure to assess skill and knowledge gaps across departments, too. Save your R&D team members’ time by arming other departments with foundational knowledge - this will reduce the amount of time-consuming back-and-forth between teams.
Fostering a culture of collaboration across your business can not only save time but may also improve the quality of your R&D. More collaboration means more input, more ideas and more innovation.
Of course, this all amounts to increasing the amount of knowledge and skills at your team’s disposal, increasing efficiencies within the R&D activity your business conducts.
Streamline tools and processes
Time saving and streamlining go hand in hand.
Assess your internal R&D processes, as well as the tools you use to conduct your research and development. Can any of these be streamlined?
The secret to streamlining lies in proactivity and reactivity.
Start by considering how you can be more proactive in your R&D. From proactive strategies that optimise your pipeline management to proactive accounting that streamlines your claim, the more proactive your processes are, the more efficient your R&D is in the long run.
Don’t forget to be reactive, too. Keep one eye on the industry landscape and the other on your internal analytics - and don’t be afraid to adjust if the situation calls for it.
A competitor beat you to market? Identified a more profitable direction in which to take your project? Need to work to a tighter timeframe?
Think about how this data and information will be accessed and communicated, too. Streamline your use of tools by educating more of your team on how to use them and how to interpret the data they provide.
Likewise, you can streamline your analytics by ensuring you’re concentrating only on the data that matters. Filter outputs to ensure only relevant data is displayed - nothing can slow down the reactivity of your R&D processes like having a library of irrelevant data to shift through.
Remaining reactive with your R&D processes can improve your efficiencies by correcting course at the right moment, as opposed to having to retrospectively change path further down the line.
This means scientific uncertainties should be easier and quicker to overcome, meaning more of your R&D team will be available for more research and development activities.
Whatever your budget, whatever your business, whatever the project, driving efficiencies in your research and development is essential.
By following these four tips, you’ll be conducting R&D with a methodical and systematic approach that optimises your use of resources and manpower, however much is available to you.
Looking to optimise your R&D tax credit claim, too? That’s where we come in. Get in touch with Lumo to learn more about how we can help.