Here I go again stating the obvious, but I think it's worth repeating: one of the great advantages of being part of EMC, whether as a member or as part of the EMC staff, is that we get to see and hear about many great manufacturing practices, many of them being Best Practices, World Class etc. As an extension of this, you also get to take these practices back to your plants and we get to pass them onto those that may not have had a chance to observe them.
For me, since my primary role revolves around the SR&ED program, it's those SR&ED related practices that I see and hear about that I then get to pass on. Attendance at SIG's, during plant visits, at the SR&ED Seminars and talking to SR&ED experts is where I pick up these tips and practices.
So, here is the "TOP 5 List" of best practices related to SR&ED that I have come across in the past year.
i) When budgeting expenses for Innovation, Product and Process Development and CI, also include the potential for SR&ED $$ recovery against those eligible expenses.
This instills some discipline, tied to your financial system, that can help keep the organization not only focused on innovation but also on making sure you are identifying and documenting projects and related expenses that you will be able to claim and recover a portion of. It also keeps the focus ongoing and current and helps prevent leaving the process of SR&ED identification and reporting to the last minute.
ii) Train your key personnel about what SR&ED is, what projects, activities and expenses qualify. Also the importance of good documentation and what that is. This way they will bring potential projects to you which prevents missing good projects that otherwise might have been overlooked and ensures the documentation is there to support them. Key individuals may include employees in R&D, Engineering, Quality, Production, Purchasing, Maintenance, etc.
iii) Keep the topic of SR&ED in front of your key individuals; have it as a standing agenda item on staff meetings, all hands meetings, kaizen report out meetings, monthly activity reports, etc. By doing this, even if there is nothing to report, it causes people to think about what they are doing that might qualify.
iv) Make it easy to record eligible expenses like labour, against identified SR&ED projects. One company visited do this by having an App on hand held devices issued to appropriate personnel. This way information gets entered when it happens rather than trying to remember details at a later time.
v) Incorporate SR&ED "activity recording" as part of your CI activities such as Kaizen events, Six Sigma projects, general problem solving efforts such as 8D's, 5 Why's, A3's, etc. A block to fill in the appropriate information, on whatever report format you use, again helps capture the details that will be required for your SR&ED documentation.
There certainly are a lot more great SR&ED Claim practices out there, but these are the ones that struck me as having some real potential.
Let me know if you have any practices that you consider "really good" and would like to share.
Best of the Season to you and yours!