I don’t like to prepare for it

Most companies hate preparing for, or participating in SR&ED claims. It goes without saying that preparations for SR&ED and efforts to ensure SR&ED eligibility take an enormous amount of time and internal resources. But as the old saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way.

Companies can take a whole range of measures to improve their new product development work, while at the same time gather information for their SR&ED claims. Our examination of and exposure to these dynamics at RDP have made it abundantly clear that it is possible to reconcile these tasks and turn them into a win-win situation for any organization.

Managing the ‘lessons learned’

As part of developing new products, what you want to do in your organization is avoid reinventing the wheel. While most companies agree that it is a good practice to document and review lessons learned, however, many of them do a poor job of tracking the ‘lessons learned’ and developing a method, whereby relevant lessons can be accessed quickly.

There are case studies and sophisticated processes to document and utilize ‘lessons learned’. I think most companies can implement something very simple.

Here is what you can do in three key steps:

At the end of a project (or at key milestones of large projects) have a team meet and ask the following:

  • What went well?
  • What went wrong?
  • What should we do next time?

Make sure to consider the following questions when conducting a post mortem:

2. Document the key lessons learned in no more than a page and file them away so that they can be searched and reviewed at a later date. Consider documenting the answers to the following questions:

  • Were technical objectives well understood?
  • Was the product concept relevant to the objectives?
  • Were technical risks identified at the outset?
  • Did unforeseen technical problems arise during the development?
  • Were technical improvements made that could have been used in other products?
  • Were customer requirements clear?
  • Were test plans designed to validate the requirements and highlight unknown limitations?
  • Was the project budget clearly defined?

3. Now here is the part few companies do: When starting a new project, review ‘lessons learned’ at your first meeting. In this meeting a team member should review the database of ‘lessons learned’ and select relevant lessons to bring to the meeting.

Capturing the above information should take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. However, by doing so, you not only have great feedback for the next project, but also excellent documentation for your SR&ED preparation.

One final point

A question often arises as to how to build a database that can be accessed quickly for relevant lessons. Here is a link on how to capture lessons learned and disseminate them, using a SharePoint site. The same basic principles can be used for other platforms or to build your own database.

Brian Cookson is President and Managing Director of RDP Associates.

For information on how to optimize the time spent on SR&ED claim preparations, new product development, or for a complimentary session on evaluating your overall SRED eligibility, contact us at (416) 368-9341 or [email protected]