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Month: May 2017

R&D Project Management

R&D Project Management

I’ve been lucky enough to manage what I would call a small-scale R&D project for my firm. At the highest level we aim to use technology to solve problems for educators at Ball State, as part of this mission we are always keep an eye on new and upcoming technology. Recently the area of virtual reality (VR) has started to take off, and in a effort to learn the VR field and be prepared for it’s future implementations we bought an HTC Vive.

I knew going into it that this project would be unlike other projects for many reasons, but most importantly because we know nothing about how to do anything involving VR. On most projects there are parts that require training or research but this entire project was a big experiment. A project of this nature presents challenges to a project manager because there aren’t clear deliverables or clearly established timelines – this means traditional management techniques may not be appropriate. One of the rules of project management is having a clearly defined point at which a project is finished, if the project doesn’t have an end condition then it isn’t a project – it’s a process. With all of that in mind, we knew this still had to managed as a project – whatever that might mean.

At first we approached the project with some weekly research reporting goals in order for the team to self-define what the project was going to be. The mandate was to come up with a deliverable that would allow us to discover how the technology worked along the way to meeting that deliverable. Once the research had been done, the team decided they wanted to make a simple video game that incorporated 360 degree video with computer generated graphics. Now that we have a deliverable in mind, as the project manager I can begin to build requirements, milestones and deliverables that define the project scope and timeline.

In a small company that doesn’t have a dedicated R&D segment, the resources of the company have to remain shared which causes even more problems for a project of this nature conducted in a setting like ours. Since the VR project isn’t client driven it often ends up taking a backseat to other projects which makes the already unknown timeline even more uncertain. I must admit that it becomes very frustrating to manage an R&D project like this, but since there are different expectation there is often less pressure and more understanding when deadlines get moved. Since the goal isn’t really the deliverable and more the learned knowledge, the process tends to be more fun for the stakeholders and workers. It’s important to learn that even an R&D project can be broken down into deliverables and managed traditionally as long there are some clear outcomes defined. Even if those outcomes start out vague, and even if you don’t know how long it will take to achieve them, it’s a starting point; and that’s all you need.

-ERB

Introduction

Introduction

Hi everyone,

My name is Eric Barlow, I am a Graduate Student in the Information and Communication Sciences Masters program at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. I will hopefully graduate in December, after four semesters in the CICS program. I hope to join a corporation in either Indianapolis or Cincinnati in the area of project management or IT management. I currently work at the Digital Corps, a media development office on the campus of Ball State University, as their part-time assistant project manager and IT supervisor.

I received my undergraduate degree from Ball State in Telecommunications, with a minor in business. I enrolled in the CICS program to reinforce my undergraduate business training and strengthen my skill set in information technology and management.

In my limited time as an assistant project manager, I have had the opportunity to manage a wide diversity of projects included a small scale R&D project. I am looking forward to ICS 698 with Dr. Gillette because I hope that it will increase my knowledge about managing R&D projects and teach me how to better approach projects of this nature with new techniques. Additionally, my office at Ball State is partnering with Marketing and Communications to produce the new Ball State departmental websites, including the new CICS website which is one of the main focuses of this course. I hope that my familiarity with this project will allow me to give the class a unique insight into all elements and aspects of the way the project is actually progressing.

I look forward to working with Dr. Gillette and everyone in this class. Feel free to contact me and connect with me on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/ericbarlow/

-ERB

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