Today’s world of business requires companies to constantly be evolving to both appeal to consumers’ changing tastes and to stay relevant. Many businesses have failed to stay afloat and no longer exist as their decision makers thought that the popularity that they had at a point in time was symbolic of what would be the case permanently.
Fortunately, many companies realize that there is a very important need to update their offerings, make additions to them, or re-brand the business in its entirety. While the marketing team is responsible for getting the word out about any such changes, many companies have a dedicated Research & Development (R&D) department that is given creative freedom to come up with new products or services on an almost constant basis to keep an air of freshness around the business. While not everything the department comes up with passes the approval stage to get to consumers, the focus is usually on the things that do. Below is a brief overview of the key functions of an R&D Department in business.
New Product Development
This is the most common and most fundamental role played by an R&D team in any firm. These departments are more common in companies that offer tangible goods as opposed to services; however, there are some large service industry companies that also boast a functioning R&D department.
In the context of products, however, the research arm of the R&D team uses various data sources available to them to perform research in an area that they think the business can use to penetrate the market. It is also possible that they do research based on data the marketing team has gathered. Once enough data has been gathered, the next step is to visualize a product that is aligned with the research perform.
This vision is then passed on to the development arm of the team that uses the research specifications to create an alpha version of the product. This is usually fine tuned a bit based on discussion after which it enters testing. Items that are tested and successful are then pitched to decision makers who then approve or deny entry to the market.
Existing Product Improvement
This is an overlooked function of the R&D team as people are usually of the opinion that such a team only exists to bring new innovations to the table. The potential of becoming stale was discussed above and the R&D has a key role to play in ensuring that does not happen.
Typically, there are two ways in which this function begins. The first is after interacting with and studying consumers, the marketing team realizes that tweaks or improvements need to be made to an existing product. The second is that the research arm of the team decides to review existing products to see how they can be improved and with approval for the changes, the development team begins to work.
This is how many businesses continue to stay fresh in a world of ever-changing tastes.
Quality Control and Assurance
Depending on how an R&D works, there is usually a function of quality control and quality assurance played. Quality control refers to checking that developed products meet a predetermined standard after completion. Quality assurance is a similar verification technique, but it is instead done at each stage of production as opposed to at the end.
Of course, most companies opt for quality assurance as it is a more reliable and sound strategy.
R&D departments usually exist in medium to large businesses and are responsible for keeping an air of freshness around the business by staying on top of and ahead of current business trends by performing the functions above.