Improving ROI with R&D Best Practices, Featuring Gartner Insight

| Product Lifecycle Management | Formulation Management
Posted By: Michelle Duerst


What systems are R&D using?

As R&D departments define formulations, they define the overall success or failure for the entire company. Yet many companies do not recognize the need to invest in advanced technology, but relegate one of the most critical aspects of NPDI to antiquated worksheets, in-house software, or solutions that are bought part-in-parcel with an enterprise solution.



“We used a combination of spreadsheets, documents, and presentations in a variety of formats. There was a guideline for development steps to be taken, but no formal process. Our biggest improvement is to have a central repository for formulations and tracking of formula changes and ingredients.”—Business Project Manager, Medium Enterprise Food Company[1]

While some solutions may be initially more cost-effective, the long-term results can show a great disparity in productivity, regulatory compliance validation, user acceptance, and overall collaboration to reduce timelines and budget.

Gartner states, “Global R&D spending by governments and corporations is estimated to rise to the staggering amount of $1.6 trillion, according to The Wall Street Journal, yet many Gartner clients report low returns on R&D spending.”[2]

Why do companies see such a low ROI? 

Simply stated, PLM has different requirements across your corporate departments, which can be extended across your supply chain and vendors. What is essential for one group may not be a high priority for another.   

Gartner explains, “It is immensely important to have a firm understanding of how R&D staff are actually collaborating. Gartner clients often report R&D use of niche applications, or methods that are under the radar to enterprise IT, and often do not use the enterprise social collaboration software to exchange R&D-centric information.”[2]

Key Factors to Maximize R&D ROI

Each R&D department will have their own unique needs, but finding a solution that offers these key elements will allow you to increase ROI.

1.  Visibility

Data sheets may be able to house data, but it cannot effectively share the knowledge.  Your R&D team needs better visibility for themselves as well as for those that collaborate with them.

A PLM system provides a single source of truth, ensuring accurate information, better productivity, and eliminates costly errors when your R&D team can easily see:

  • Original product specifications
  • How added ingredients/process impact the formulation/recipe with material attributes (costs, allergens, hazardous substances, certifications, vendor specifications, etc.).
  • Analysis for accurate labeling and packaging
  • Regulatory analysis (more below)


Equally as important, the R&D team should be able to easily transfer the knowledge across the enterprise. Ideally, the PLM system should be able to integrate with supporting systems (ERP, supply chain, CAD drawings, graphic systems, etc.).


“We plan to issue our plant working formulas out of DevEX. We currently forward these formulas from DevEX to a group who converts to Excel. Using DevEX as the single house is a huge time saver and eliminates mistakes when transferring data.”—Business Professional, Large Enterprise Beverage Company[3]


2.  Compliance

Traditionally, the process of validating a compliant product and ensuring quality would come at the end of the R&D cycle. However, the most effective solution would provide analysis tools that R&D can use throughout the cycle. Not only will this ensure compliance, but it will also significantly reduce timeframes and budgets.


Regulatory in R&D

  • Analyze compliance in product requirements stage
  • Alert R&D when an ingredient or process is added that would create a compliance issue (ex:  certifications, allergen management, etc.)
  • Access latest regulatory information and updates (ex:  cloud-based subscription service)
  • Proactively analyze and prepare formulations for upcoming legislations (ex:  FDA changing labeling rules)


3.  Speed

Speed to market can define and establish customer brand loyalty, as well as increase revenue and profitability. Tools that can expedite a product to market can provide a significant competitive advantage.


Many of these tools simply cannot be found in home-grown solutions and require complex calculations:

  • What If Scenarios
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Formula Optimization
  • Formula Scale (for Mass Production)


4.  Collaboration

R&D teams need systems that will support their unique job requirements and alleviate many of the drains on their time. These can include:

  • Instant progress status dashboards to immediately see where they are and what needs to be completed
  • Automatic notifications (ex: notify Regulatory when a formulation is ready for validation)
  • Document management with distribution log, version-controls, and audit trails
  • Translation conversion capabilities (labeling, manufacturing, and vendor support)


[1] Source:  TechValidate

[2] Source:  Gartner, Extreme Collaboration Beyond the Firewall is Necessary for New Product Innovation, Michael Shanler March 2014

[3] Source:  TechValidate