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research scientist analyzing results
Nicky ClarkeMarch 28 20225 min read

Keep hybrid R&D teams in manufacturing agile and connected

Manufacturing is a sector in transition. Rapidly changing consumer demands, prolonged economic uncertainty, and unpredictable supply chain constraints have challenged manufacturers. A global shift to remote working in response to the pandemic, has seen additional complications for traditional workplace norms.

When you think of manufacturing you envisage on-site people and processes, but technological advancement and automation have allowed more manufacturing and industrial engineering professionals to work remotely. 

The importance of R&D in manufacturing

Research and development (R&D) teams are at the core of all manufacturing innovations and play a pivotal role in the global economy by producing strategies, designs, process improvements and products that bring value to both consumers and companies—as well as create competitive advantages for manufacturers.

There are three basic roles within R&D teams: sponsor, leader and team member.

  • Sponsors are focused on the outcome of the project and keep track of key milestones; however, they don’t require task-level visibility.
  • Project leads are focused on milestones as well as the details surrounding individual tasks.
  • Team members often work in a silo and are focused on their specific set of tasks.

For maximum productivity, all three roles require a clear, intuitive path to the data and insights they need.

Siloed information = poor performance

Typically, R&D teams in the manufacturing industry rely on outdated tools such as Excel spreadsheets, emails and instant messaging to collaborate and keep track of projects. But when each role or skill set within the team has unique data needs, those siloed sources of information begin to quickly multiply.

Too much time is wasted searching for the right information or creating the latest document update, exacerbating the difficulties these teams already face to perform at their peak. Managing new product development, product testing and regulatory compliance with siloed information and workflows cause collaboration, project progress and productivity to slow, and misunderstandings and frustration to rise.

Bring new products to market faster while meeting technical, cost and schedule objectives, with all the metrics, insight and actions you need in one place. 

Common challenges for hybrid R&D teams

The transition to remote working has been an additional challenge for R&D teams, resulting in hybrid teams that are spread across different time zones. The shift to hybrid teams is logical, but it doesn’t come without it's problems.

Hybrid work environments don’t always lend themselves to fast-paced production; if a team member working in one time zone has a question that requires another team member’s expertise, it could be hours or even a full business day before they hear from them. Different locations, various work styles and different experience levels result in inefficiencies:

Productivity slows

  • The need for hybrid manufacturing teams to innovate quickly is more essential than ever and it’s no longer enough to rely on manual, inefficient project management methods that progress on countless platforms. Delays in communication through unread emails or missed messages significantly halt the efficiency of these processes. 

Projects falter

  • Many R&D teams struggle with juggling multiple point solutions to track tasks, assignments, and time separately. There's an array of communication methods between internal teams and no single source of truth. If all project information isn’t accessible to hybrid team members at all times, details such as budget, resource allocation or project timelines are siloed.

Collaboration collapses

  • Effective and continuous collaboration is key for hybrid R&D teams in the manufacturing space in order to accommodate an individual's location, working style and expertise. Cross team collaboration within the organization is just as important as internal team collaboration. The fact that these collaboration methods are not directly tied to the work often results in miscommunication, a lack of shared understanding and ultimately delayed progress. 


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A single source of truth

In a hybrid environment, understanding who’s working on what, as well as the expected completion date for that work, is crucial. A Gartner study found that without accurate resource management data, teams overestimate their capacity to take on new work. That overestimation can have a significant impact on project timelines, potentially extending the duration of a 4-month project to as much as a year.

Continuous collaboration drives productivity

Effective collaboration solutions improve the management of projects and information by ensuring content is stored in one place so your teams are always accessing and working on the latest version; a single source of truth that encompasses tasks, assignments, resource workload and more. Organizations can put together the best possible team, regardless of their location and work style, and no one ever need be disconnected from the project.

This centralized approach breaks down silos and eliminates uninformed decisions that could jeopardize important timelines. With the right technology in place, organizations are better equipped to handle any business disruption or adapt to rapidly changing demands.

Learn more: 'A Guide to Strategic Decision-Making in Hybrid Leadership Teams'

Roadmap Technology Development Timeline

Stay agile and connected

Ensuring your hybrid teams can stay agile and working towards common goals isn't easy. Thankfully, SharpCloud keeps teams flexible and pulling in the right direction. R&D team members can easily find the data that’s meaningful to them while still working in the format of their choice. Collaborating at the task level through views such as kanban boards and Gantt charts lets team members see data and assignments in one place without being overwhelmed with too many details that don’t involve them.

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Align data, teams and decisions

At the same time, executives can see high-level metrics in a real-time dashboard, while team leaders can manage and assess even the smallest detail.

Visualize Technology Readiness Levels

Connecting task management and issue tracking with all other aspects of an agile organization, in one tool, will align data, teams, strategy and decisions. With seamless integration to other agile software, your live project data can move between SharpCloud and your work management software of choice, making it even easier for everyone to stay connected.

Hybrid work environments are here to stay for the forseeable future. Providing hybrid R&D teams in manufacturing with the right software to manage their projects collaboratively, will ensure a single source of truth, help speed time to market and sustain high quality standards.


Create a free SharpCloud account to see how our platform can keep your hybrid team connected.


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