R & D is a unique activity requiring unique project management. R&D tends to be done by a single person or few team members, who feel they are scientists or researchers, not Project Managers. Most of the time it is difficult to estimate how long the research will take, or how many experiments have to be performed. Most organizations manage R&D projects by a ‘seat of the pants’ approach. But R&D should result in a product so the activity must be treated as a proper project, with formal planning, estimating, scheduling and control.
Having trained several R&D clients (Canadian Mint and Genome Canada for example), John Rakos developed a three day R&D Project Management course. This course, as with all PM courses, can have Microsoft Project training included so that the researchers can plan and report progress using the software to create simple Work Breakdown Structures, Gant schedules, budgets and so forth.
There is a suggested outline at R&D PM – but this outline can, and should, be tailored to the specific industry.