Traditional research management methods, the authors contend, are too unsystematic to continue to control the funding and allocation of men, money, and materials in research. Today, research and development (R&D) funds total $25 billion, of which federal funds account for 80%. If only because of researcher's responsibility for this cost, the authors say, “there must be a logical, rational way to select the tasks to be worked on and the resources to be expended on the effort.”
In fact, over the past decade a wide range of planning tools have been developed and tested; the authors believe they work; and this book gives an overview of the most significant resource allocation techniques now being used in government and industry.
Among the suggested strategies for planning are rigorous goal identification, sample budgeting, time apportionment, and selection of those research paths which give the greatest over-all payoffs. The authors emphasize that hard choices must be made, and that research projects must be assigned a “value” rating so that the most promising ones are given priority, while less important ones are deferred. The allocation of funds represents one of the most difficult but also one of the most fruitful aspects of the decision-making process. One of the methods for making such decisions is the Methodology for Allocating Corporate Resources to Objectives (MACRO) which has been used in Europe as well as in the U.S. Another procedure now being employed by the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory, involves the use of computerized planning programs.
Only research that has been carefully planned will yield the most significant technological advances. Yet development must be just as carefully managed, for its cost ma be phenomenal, and a wrong start could be catastrophic. Finally, the authors consider technological forecasting, which must be accurate enough to prevent overextension of resources on the one hand, and incipient obsolescence on the other. Here, as in current planning, rigorous management and control must be practiced.