Project Management for R&D Projects

Last week I attended a two-day Project Management (PM) course about project risk management. We were 20 people from throughout the Dassault Systemes (DS) group, mostly from the Services group. I learned that standard R&D practice is to not have Project Managers, which really surprised me. I have seen multiple deliverables fail, and in several of them, I could point at a lack of Project Management as the reason for the failure.

When I was at the STC Summit in May, I discovered that the STC is only now starting to view Project Management as a real tool that technical communicators should use in our toolbox. Liz Herman is starting to push PM via the STC. Perhaps that is because technical communicators don’t see themselves as leading teams of project members, but rather, as being only a member of a team that is under someone else’s direction? In my PM training, I certainly learned that PMs need to be assertive and take a lead role to drive a project. I’m not sure why PM has not been more embraced by the STC and technical communication community.

I have started a dialog with my boss about examining ways to do some PM work within R&D. I know that for this effort to take hold, I will need to push this idea out and be accountable for showing results with this effort. If anyone has any personal stories of how PM within an R&D group improved your products and helped your company, please pass them along. Thanks.

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