“I’m not sure I can take that off my to-do list just yet, I can see that Bill still has to add some numbers.” Seems like a common sentence within the office environment but when it comes to building a software that actually communicates this type of information, it’s not so straightforward.
Products that require collaborative work need to provide their users with means to plan, collaborate and track to ensure that everyone is aware of what has been done and what is left. Now when you’re dealing with something as complicated as claiming R&D tax relief, building a software that is able to support these sorts of processes will act not only as a guiding force but will also help reinforce the quality of the claim.
Claiming R&D tax relief can be a tricky process, especially if you haven’t done it before. In a way, you have to submit to HMRC two types of reports, one is the technical narrative and the other the financial narrative. In the technical narrative, you outline all the different types of projects, activities and experts that were involved. In the financial narrative, you attach numbers to your technical narrative. Often the people who are involved in the technical side of things, are not involved in the financial aspects of the projects.
For example, if you are a team of chemists working on a new flavour for a beverage company, you are concerned about figuring out a way to make sure that the formulation of the new drink is stable by testing its chemistry, stability and performance. You would rarely find that these people are also the ones handling wages, paying for the inventory and handing subcontractors invoices, these sorts of things are handled by the accountants or HR departments.
This is why when it comes to writing an R&D tax relief report, the information required is often held by different people. A claim won’t be successful if the information held by the different types of people isn’t combined correctly, which is why it was important for us that when we built our R&D tax relief software the aspect of collaboration is at its forefront.
Value built on collaboration
We knew that for our clients to claim successfully, Novel needs to provide its users with means to plan the team’s work and track user changes to ensure everyone contributes fairly and is aware of the latest changes. So how does Novel help users within an organisation stay up to date with the organisation’s most recent updates?
As part of a large organisation tracking system with complete visibility over history changes, we have recently implemented a push notifications feature, which allows users who belong to the same organisation to see its most recent changes. Users who are within an organisation level can now open a notifications menu from the top navigation and see what part of the organisation was updated and who did the change. Navigating outside of an organisation level and opening the notifications menu would instead show the most recent updates regarding the user’s account.
What does it mean for the users?
Let’s be honest, things get forgot and things get missed. The value of having a notification system to track what different users within the system do helps us always be aware of the progress of our R&D tax relief claim as well as what changes have happened or haven’t. This function is also meant to help users plan their next steps and not miss key deadlines.
For example, the chemists go into Novel and submit that the project for the new flavour they have been working for has been complete. In turn, the users with the knowledge of the financial side of things can use this as an indicator to put in the relevant costs data.
For the techies out there, this is how we did it
Regardless of how complex or simple an app feature is, it must always be implemented with best possible user experience in mind – ease of use and to take little to none of the user’s time. Novel notifications menu is well crafted to allows users to see all the information they need within a few seconds of opening the menu. We achieved this by using coloured text to emphasise on the message key words and the profile picture of the user who made the change.
We decided not to show the actual change in the notification message, as it would be unreasonable to put a large chunk of text in a small notification menu. Instead, users can click on the notification and they will be taken to the page where the change occurred and see what was updated. Showing the actual change would certainly help our users better manage their organisation, but this will be left for the part of the organisation tracking system mention above.
For those interested in the technologies used, the back end keeps track of and stores an organisation or user account recent update logs in AWS CloudWatch. These logs are then fetched, parsed and altered to be relevant and human readable through AWS Lambda and passed to the front end. The front end runs a few functions to store in Redux, cache in Local Storage and format using declarative approach the logs. Also, to maintain a two-way real time communication we have implemented web sockets which listen for any upcoming notifications.
Do your next R&D tax relief claim with Novel
Generate HMRC-compliant R&D tax relief claims without the complexity quickly and efficiently in-house as well as take advantage of its suite of features: education content, financial aggregators that make complex calculations for you, and R&D tracking feature.
Preparing R&D tax relief claims hasn’t been easier.