Four Productivity Hacks for Claiming SR&ED in 2015

There is never enough time in the day, especially when it comes to R&D.

Save some time and make your 2015 SR&ED claim process as smooth as possible by implementing these four simple productivity hacks:

1. Automate time tracking as much as possible.

We recommend tracking 100% of your time but it doesn’t have to be a monotonous process. Set up your time tracking categories upfront (here are some great examples) and then let software tools automate the rest.

Here are some automated time tracking tools to try out (if you aren’t already) this year:

  • TimeCamp – when switched to automatic mode, all of your time is tracked to tasks using certain keywords. It uploads your tasks and integrates nicely with systems such as Trello, BaseCamp and Asana.
  • Chrometa – automatic tracking that records time spent within all applications, documents, emails, and web pages. It also records time while you’re away and prompts you to make notes.
  • Desktime –  automatically tracks your desktop time as productive, unproductive or neutral and enables you to see both individual and organizational level analytics.

If you’re still tracking time on spreadsheets and aren’t quite ready to, here are a few other time tracking solutions:

  • Replicon – offers a number of cloud-based time tracking applications that are customizable to your organization’s needs. It’s integrated with large services such as Ceridian, ADP and SAP.
  • Toggl – looking for a minimal solution? Toggl is a free time tracking tool that helps you keep track of tasks and only requires one-click to start tracking. It integrates with popular project management platforms such as BaseCamp, Asana and Trello.
  • Chime – free time tracking tool that lets you send updates to team members and measure ongoing progress. It integrates nicely with BamBam!, a task management tool.

2. Stop discussing project details over email.

It’s easy to get bogged down by email. It’s also very time consuming to stay on top of organizing your email into folders and categories. Save yourself the headache of having to dig through your inbox for SR&ED-related communications and start recording notes in one central location.

Here are some useful tools to improve your project communication efforts (and keep those notes out of your inbox!):

  • Slack – great, easy to use platform for team communication. You can organize conversations around one topic or project, which makes it easy to streamline documentation or do a quick keyword search. It also integrates with a number of tools such as Github, code reviewer Code Climate, and bug tracker Bugsnag, to name a few.
  • HipChat – another alternative chat platform that enables one to one chat or groups. There is also video calling, screen sharing and enhanced security.
  • Producteev – great platform that does real-time updates on projects and can help you manage your to-do lists.

3. Schedule 15 minute check-in meetings in the afternoon (Tuesday afternoon to be exact).

Research shows the most optimal time for meetings is 3pm on Tuesdays. It is still early in the week and leaves enough time to accomplish deadlines and finish other tasks before the end of the week.

Want to streamline your project meetings even more? We recommend a weekly standing-only meeting to discuss project challenges. Keep these meetings to 15 minutes to maintain everyone’s focus and make the best use of your team’s time. Have someone record all of the notes discussed and this will keep you on top of all of your documentation needed to fully support your SR&ED claim.

You can also implement the small-group principle and only include those who have something to add. Oh, and be sure to leave smartphones at your desk.

4. Plan your SR&ED claim backwards and start now.

You plan your project backwards, so why not apply the same approach to your SR&ED claim?

Set aside less an hour to meet with your SR&ED advisor and plan out your claim from start to finish. Being proactive and submitting your claim within the first six months of your fiscal year end will guarantee your claim is processed by the CRA and returned within 120 days.

Be sure to review your current time tracking and documentation methods with your SR&ED advisor. They can recommend tweaks to your existing methods to ensure that your team’s documentation will meet the CRA’s strict documentation standards. The goal of reviewing this information is not to introduce brand new systems, but to expand on your team’s existing efforts so that they can continue to focus on doing what they do best and you can rest assured your documentation will support your claim in case of a CRA Review.

Highly qualified and experienced SR&ED advisors will keep you on track to ensure that your 2015 SR&ED claim is as effective and seamless as possible.

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