Computer World has an interesting IT Project Portfolio Management (PPM) article that is equally applicable to R&D management - just read R&D when they write IT :-). They point out three dangerous myths of portfolio management:
- PPM is IT's lookout
- Right tools drive PPM success
- The best starting place is PPM Best Practice
In my experience, even the organizations that do PPM on R&D portfolios, often fall into some of these traps (I am not certain what fraction of companies have formalized PPM. May be we will do a poll on this soon). PPM is sometimes delegated to CTO or Engineering. This has a negative impact on R&D team members because there is no clear customer for what they are developing.
Another key problem is too much focus on tools and best practices. I myself fell into this trap at one PPM implementation. I was unaware of how little the organization new about their project portfolio (most were legacy R&D projects that had gone on for many years). It was not wise to even attempt to implement PPM when there was no clear portfolio to begin with!