A dedicated technical staff is not required to perform advanced development activities in most organizations. With integrated advanced development, simply allocate a small percentage -- say, 5 percent -- of each engineer’s time each week to evaluate a technology assigned to them. Assignment should be aligned with a product roadmap, and be based on the engineer’s interests and the needs of the organization.
This approach leverages engineers’ natural curiosity and their desire to learn new things, but keeps the activity aligned with organizational goals. Engineers spend this time gathering information about the technology, conducting experiments, creating concept prototypes, and identifying potential changes needed within the company -- all in an effort to learn how the technology works and how best to incorporate it into new products.
When should advanced development happen? In an ideal world, technology evaluations should be completed prior to the start of a new project. This provides input for planning, and removes the learning curve from the critical path of the project.
When time-to-market is a high priority, and schedule is greatly compressed, advanced development work can be done in parallel with the project. One approach can be to introduce the initial product without the new technology and then have a secondary release once the new technology has been fully integrated. With integrated advanced development, these activities are continually conducted by engineers, in tight alignment with product roadmaps, to ensure that resources are focused on the most immediate and relevant needs of the organization.
Implementing integrated advanced development can help reduce the risks of new technology introductions by improving initial project planning, maximizing scarce development resources, keeping engineers engaged with the latest technology advancements, and promoting cross-functional cooperation and awareness.