Research and Development Project Management

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.
The following is a suggested outline – but this can, and should, be tailored to the specific industry.

 
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT MANAGEMENT
A THREE DAY SEMINAR (FOUR DAYS IF MSPROJECT IS INCLUDED)
PART 1 – PLANNING
Outline
References
Instructor, students, schedule, logistics
PMBOK, PMP
The Project Management Institute
Project Management Body of Knowledge nine Knowledge Areas
What is a Project?
Project activities vs Operational
Learning objectives
Professional approach to R&D projects
Avoiding Project Failure
Standard tools
Bottom line as a major objective
Standard R&D lifecycles
Question the problem and hypothesis
Understand the problem, solutions, technology
Research
Experiment (if product), produce samples, beta
Report
Scale-up (if product) eg manufacturing
Transfer knowledge to industry
Full production (if product)
Where does your project fit? (may be just one phase)
The Project Plan
Project Concept
Project Charter
Project Management Plan outline
Project Proposal/Business Case
Project Scope Planning
The Work Breakdown Structure
Based on the lifecycle
Milestones and gates – fail fast methods: knowing when to quit
WBS manipulation – outlining, collapse/expand, filter
Summary WBS
Costed WBS
How far to break down
WBS rules-of-thumb
Using the WBS for everything else
Multi Project WBS
Work Package, WBS dictionary

Group exercise: Create a WBS for a case study project
Note: The class exercises can be done using Microsoft Project or media such as flipcharts. If MSProject is used the course is 4 days long and the first three exercises (WBS, Schedule, Resources and Cost) is done using MSProject. Exercise 4, Risk Management is done on paper media.
Optional: MICROSOFT PROJECT LESSON 1: Create a WBS for a sample project
MODULE 1 – STARTUP
MODULE 2 – INTRODUCTION TO MICROSOFT PROJECT
MODULE 3 – ENTERING A PLAN
Project Time Planning
Estimating Methods
Professional Judgment, History, Formulas
Best guess based on Standards
Top down, Bottom up estimating
In light of uncertainty in R&D projects
Rolling Wave for unknowns
The ‘Agile’ approach when change is constant
Accuracy of estimates at each stage of the planning
Treasury Board definitions of Indicative, Budget, Definitive estimates
Gating and Off-ramps
Sanity Checks
Ratios
Other considerations
Estimating duration
Scheduling
Network charts
Critical path
Gantt chart
Optimizing the schedule
Gantt chart drives all dates

Group exercise: Schedule your Project
Optional: MICROSOFT PROJECT: EXERCISE 2 – Schedule Your Project
MODULE 4 – Estimating, PRECEDENTS (LINKING)
ADVANCED DEPENDENCIES
FORMATTING
MODULE 5 – OUTLINING and PREFERENCES
MODULE 6 – CHANGING THE PLAN
Resource Assignment and Cost Planning
Assigning Resources
Gantt and resource usage
Resource Leveling
Personal time planning
Multi project Gantt and resource usage
Cost Estimating
Software tools
Cost accounts
Cost – sanity checks
Estimate error range

Group exercise: Assign Resources and Cost out the project                                                                         Optional: MICROSOFT PROJECT: Assign resources and Costs to your sample project
MODULE 7 – ADDING RESOURCE ASSIGNMENTS, Optionally Adding Costs
MODULE 8 – DETAILED TASK INFORMATION
MODULE 9 – PROJECT INFORMATION
MODULE 10 – RESOURCE DETAILS
MODULE 11 – SEARCH (FILTER) BY CRITERIA AND SORT
MODULE 12 – CALENDARS
Project Risk Management
Risk management steps
Risk Identification (Risk checklist)
Making your own risk list
Risk Assessment (Quantification, evaluation)
Probability and impact levels
Risk Matrix/Table
Risk Response (Strategy development)
Risk description
Risk as a monetary value
Using Risk management (When NOT to do the project)
(Optional) Group exercise: determine risks for your sample project
Project Integration Planning
Integrating scope, quality, time, cost
Optimizing the plan
Additional integration activities
Integrating multiple groups and stakeholders
Integration Processes

PART 2 – EXECUTION and CONTROL
Scale-up and Transition Phases
Project Scope/Time/Cost Control
Three steps of control
Monitoring: getting truthful information about project progress
Monitoring by PM and client; by contractor PM/Team Leader
Monitoring steps
Using a baseline
Monitoring reports:
Reporting schedule, cost, scope progress against the baseline plan
Financial Report
Excel and PPT reports

Optional: MICROSOFT PROJECT: Project Monitoring and Control
MODULE 13 – PROJECT TRACKING AND CONTROL
MODULE 14 – HANDLING PROBLEMS
MODULE 15 – REPORTING
MODULE 16 – CUSTOMIZED REPORTS
MODULE 17 – MULTI PROJECT ROLL-UP
Monitoring methods: meetings
Team Status Meeting
Project manager review meeting
Project Kickoff meeting
Gate meetings and reports

Project Communications Management
Communication: who needs, what information, when, why
Communication technologies
Noise that interferes with communication
Reporting project status
Status Report
Status report contents
Status report example
Stakeholder analysis and satisfaction
Reporting based on deliverables
Reporting based on Milestones
Communication issues/flagging
Multi project communication
Project Library
Project Quality Management
Quality planning, assurance, control processes

Project Human Resources Management
Processes
Team organizations
Size and structure
Functional
Matrix
Dedicated Project
Pro’s and con’s of each
Roles and responsibilities
Project Manager
Project Manager skills
Team Leader
Technical worker
Functional Manager
Management Skills
Motivation
Delegation
Other topics of interest: authority, conflict resolution
Team building
Staff selection
Handling Turnover
Signs of a solid team
Project Risk Control
Risk log
Unforeseen events

Group exercise: Risk Management
Project Integration Control
Change management
Scope change
Cost overrun
Time overrun
Impact and Announcing changes and slips
Project Close-out
Post project review meeting and report
Conclusions
Resources available
Further training for PMP


^