Program Planning (Research & Development/Automotive)

Project review and program management planning for automotive research & development firm.

Our customer is an organization specializing in the research and development of fuel system solutions for the alternative energy automotive market. Their customers are in turn the primary car manufacturers, with whom they collaborate in the development of alternative fuelling systems and fuel storage solutions. After recently completing a successful R&D project, they were about to undertake a comprehensive program of work that would double the potential fuel capacity of a vehicle, using the same storage volume. If successful, this project promised the potential to provide a fuel range for alternative-energy vehicles that was comparable to normally-fuelled cars.

Interthink Consulting was engaged to facilitate a comprehensive review of the previously completed R&D project, as well as to develop a comprehensive plan and management strategy for the new program that they were about to commence. The engagement commenced with the facilitation of a comprehensive review of the previous project. As well as exploring the successes, failures and improvement opportunities for future projects, this included a detailed assessment of the performance of the project, technical challenges and accomplishments. In completing this review, we developed a comprehensive report for submission to the project funders, which included OEM automotive manufacturers and the federal government.

In planning the new research and development program, we collaborated with the organization to devise an appropriate program management structure that would enable multiple related projects to proceed in parallel. This required identification of an overall work plan and critical integration points at which research and development efforts would need to come together in order to assess the overall viability of the planned solution. We also facilitate the development of individual project plans, including identification of the scope, work breakdown structure, schedule and budget of each project. The result was a comprehensive set of achievable work plans, and an integrated approach to management of the work that would accelerate the project while still managing overall risks and ensuring a viable final solution.

As a result of Interthink Consulting’s work with the organization, they were able to realize a number of significant and valuable outcomes, including:

  • Development of comprehensive project reports in order to comply with the funding requirements imposed by the project sponsors, including the federal government and OEM automotive manufacturers. In support of this effort, we led the development of a project completion report for the earlier research project, as well as the development of a program plan, individual project plans and an investment prospectus for the new development program. The result was the securing of sufficient financial support to proceed with the new research and development program.
  • Development of workable and realistic project and program plans that clearly identified the work necessary to complete the new research and development program. While the organization had strong engineering expertise in place, this approach provided the management discipline and structure that would enable them deliver the work, be able to monitor and manage progress, and continue to provide interim progress reports required by the program funders. The result was a management structure that gave funders confidence in the ability of the organization to deliver, and that provided clarity to the project teams as they managed their individual work efforts.
  • Delivery of a complex research program that consisted of several development paths being pursued in parallel. The increase in fuelling capacity required by the program necessitated the reengineering of several different aspects of previous solutions at the same time. While historically the organization had proceeded with one stage of redevelopment at a time, the program called for an accelerated delivery where new solutions would be sought for each sub-system, while ensuring the overall solution successfully delivered on its objectives. The resulting plan, project organization and management strategy created the visibility necessary to manage the overall program while still enabling each project team to maintain focus on their individual R&D efforts.