The main drivers for this trend have been:

  • Concerns about the ethics and working practices of some R&D consultants
  • Clients requesting to deal with their accountant directly on R&D
  • A desire to add value to clients by branching out into advisory services.

If you’re in this same boat, keep reading! Today I want to give you some insights from my 13 years of running R&D companies, preparing claims and supporting accountants with their in-house services. We’ll talk about 5 specific things we’ve seen across all the successful R&D services we’ve seen, so you can pick up some tips and make your own life easier.

Why you need to be organised and prepared to run a great R&D service

Whether you’re considering moving away from using external R&D consultants, or have recently started your own R&D service within your firm, there’s quite a bit to think about.

Marketing your service, finding and screening clients, and preparing compliant claims are all important. There are big rewards for getting it right – increased revenues, a wider service offering, and career progression options for your staff – but it’s not always easy!

Some firms find out the hard way that you can’t just wing it. They ran into serious problems caused by a lack of capacity, training, support and confidence.

On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of others excel. The ones that really cracked the in-housing nut are those who take the time to do all these five things.

1. Set clear goals for your R&D service

Rather than just deal with the occasional R&D client as they walked through the door, the most effective firms were those that specifically defined and communicated the goals and targets of their service within their firm. Getting clarity can make your team cohesive and proactive in working towards an agreed plan, rather than just taking things as they came along.

2. Select an appropriate R&D service model

Although people talk about ‘doing a claim’, the reality is that there are many different ways to achieve this, each with their pros and cons. The most effective firms evaluated various approaches and selected the one that best suited their skills, aspirations and client base.

3. Choose the right pricing model

Just as there is variety in ‘doing a claim’, there’s similar variety in how you charge for your services. The most effective firms were those that adopted a pricing model that was profitable for them, attractive to their client portfolio, and flexible enough to compete with other providers when necessary.

4. Build a supportive team

The best firms weren’t necessarily those that went out and hired expensive superstars. It seems to be more reliable to take a measured approach. Think carefully about the skills and talents of the people you already employ. Then design your R&D team to match the service you want to provide and make best possible use of your existing people, before you think about hiring.

5. Provide management, support & training

The firms who really shone were those who didn’t just create a team and leave them to it. Instead, you need to proactively manage, support and train your people so that they can be as effective, productive and fulfilled as possible. This leads to greater job satisfaction, higher revenues and greater R&D service coverage across your portfolio.

How to improve your own R&D in-house service

How do you think your service measures up? Have you done all five of these things for yours? If not, and you’d like a bit of guidance, we’ve produced a free guide ‘How to Run an In-house R&D Service’. This explains all the steps involved and the decisions you’ll need to make in getting your R&D service flying.

We look at all five of the key points covered here in more detail, so you can make the right decisions about goals, service models, pricing, hiring and training your team. There’s even a worksheet you can use to outline your business plan or prepare a proposal to share within your firm.

Download the guide