The research and development (R&D) process is a process in which new products are developed. Manufacturers of everything from pharmaceuticals to personal computers use this process to identify new ideas, take those ideas through development, and eventually release them on the open market for sale. The R&D process can take months or years, involving contributions from a number of company employees with various areas of interest and skill sets.
The R&D process starts with the fostering of ideas. Employees may meet to brainstorm, talking about various issues in their field and products which could be used to address particular areas of need or concern. Generally, a large field of ideas is generated, and staffers begin to sift through then to identify ideas with potential which should be further explored. This may include research into existing products and technology, to determine how feasible an idea is, whether or not the idea is original, and how well it may be received.
As researchers narrow down ideas suggested during the earliest phase, they may also conduct market research to learn about how well an idea will be accepted by the public or by potential clients. Using this information, ideas with potential are singled out, and the R&D process moves into the next phase, which involves bringing those ideas to life. At this stage, product developers start figuring out how the idea can be executed, and they work on prototypes. As the R&D process continues, prototypes become more and more sophisticated, and designers start thinking about issues like mass production, identification of problems with the prototype, and so forth.
With something approaching a final product, the R&D process branches out. Branches of the company concerned with regulatory issues start exploring the regulations which could impact the product and the tests which the product may need to pass in order to sell, as in the case of pharmaceuticals which need to be taken through clinical trials. Advertising departments, meanwhile, start to think about advertising campaigns, branding, and product naming so that the company can experience a successful product roll out. The company also thinks about issues like pricing, distribution, and so forth.
The culmination of the R&D process ideally involves the introduction of a product to the public. However, many roadblocks can be encountered along the way; ideas may be taken quite far through development before being abandoned, and many ideas are quickly cut at the start of the process. Most companies want to encourage R&D innovation, so they support input from employees at all stages of the process, under the assumption that everyone may have a good idea which could benefit the company.