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In an Agile Scrum environment, how do you compute R&D tax credit? In a 'waterfall' model, the 'Define' and 'Design' phases could be applied. But in Scrum, how do you do that?

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Scrum is sometimes dubbed as waterfall in a pill, meaning that you reduce the whole waterfall model into a short, a couple of weeks long, iteration. This is of course a bit of simplification but it isn't far from truth either.

You basically have define and design stages in each iteration of Scrum: planning meetings, estimation, etc. It will be likely a day or so per each iteration.

What you may want to do is to accumulate all that time from each iteration and you get Scrum equivalent for define in design.

Also if you use iteration 0 you can probably account all this iteration as define/design as well.

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I work for a pretty large organisation that makes a sizeable claim - so managers, team leaders and some senior devs have had specific training on what can and cannot be counted. We therefore simply tag all tasks in the backlog according to whether they can be counted or not, and run off a report when required. If this all sounds really organised, I should add it's taken us years to get to this stage :-)

I would also add that allowable activities for R&D tax credits go beyond simply define and design. Anything that is "either 'directly contributing' to seeking the advance in science or technology, or as 'qualifying indirect activity'" can be included (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/cirdmanual/cird81300.htm) - this certainly includes the actual development/programming activities to prove the definition and design of the "invention"

Note that even such things as building costs and overheads can form an element of the overall claim.

Depending on how much you spend on "R&D" it could certainly be worthwhile consulting a specialist accountant.

  • +1 for consulting your accountant. I've claimed R&D credits for Agile teams and it is almost universally dependent on what your accountant wants to claim and how they want to claim it. – Al Biglan Aug 6 '11 at 22:50
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I've worked on teams that have a 'define' column on their board. This is where stories go while there are conversations taking place to generate acceptance criteria and any thing else needed to work on the story. Measuring time cards are in this column would be one way of making this time visible.

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