Research and development involves investigation designed to discover and explore new products or processes. The activities involved in R&D help companies or individuals reach goals, achieve growth, or maintain a position in a marketplace. Although major technology corporations use R&D actively in their daily operations, other companies can and should also allocate resources to R&D to improve existing products and processes or create new ones. The process of research and development is a cycle that includes synthesizing and theorizing; exploring, hypothesizing, and clarifying; designing, developing, and testing; implementation, studying efficacy, and improvements; and then a return to synthesizing and theorizing.
Synthesize and Theorize
Brainstorming ideas is the first step in research and development. During this stage, a team engages in discussion to consider issues and potential needs in a specific industry. This discussion typically begins generally, and the process narrows the focus down to specific areas of concern or opportunity. Challenges that are determined to be insurmountable will likely be set aside so the team can focus on products or processes that can be successfully developed and implemented. Synthesizing involves discussion to form a theory or speculation that will solve an issue, need, or problem.
Explore, Hypothesize, and Clarify
Once a team has chosen an idea to pursue, further exploration and research begins. Continual refinement occurs with the help of market surveys to determine market potential. As potential is ascertained, the team will continue to refine and develop the idea. Exploration of a design budget also occurs during this phase. Eventually, researchers will engage the assistance of product developers, who will work to develop prototypes of the product or process, which further enables exploration and hypothesis.
Design, Develop, and Test
The design and development phase involves creating a plan for how to take an idea and make it into a product or process. A period of trial and error typically involves a series of prototype products, with each one improving on the design to eliminate flaws or limitations. The complexity of a product may evolve with each prototype. Eventually, designers will consider issues such as how to mass-produce a product and how to present it to consumers with the most effective sales tactics.
Implement, Study Efficacy, and Improve
The prototype product continues to evolve during the development and testing process. Developers consider any applicable regulatory aspects of the work to ensure that the product adheres to all criteria required for final approval and launch of the product. The development team will devise and implement any modifications necessary to comply with these regulations. The team will also develop marketing strategies that include pricing and distribution.
Return to Synthesize and Theorize
After launch of a product or process, the R&D cycle does not end. A team will monitor marketing and sales closely, considering this the biggest test of the design. Product evaluation will occur to ensure that the design is effective and successful. The team will be ready to make modifications, if necessary, to resolve issues or make improvements. It’s even possible that a team will abandon a product because results fail to meet expectations. Continual analysis will occur to ensure the most effective product or process.