Community Data Solutions

There are many organisations across Australia that receive government funding such as grants. As part of the funding, organisations have an obligation to report back on the number of clients they see, volume of services they provide and other data. Organisations that rely on government funding usually have areas in the business that are under-resourced – administration is one them.

Adelaide based scale-up business, Community Data Solutions (CDS) helps to fill that resource gap – its platform creates CRM systems for non-for-profits. The company, which has customers in every state and territory in Australia, was started by Chris Were and his father Greg. Greg’s background is in the non-for-profit (NFP) sector, while Chris’ is in technology.

“We came together to build a system that helped solve a lot of the data collection and reporting issues faced by Australian non-for-profits.”

CDS enables customers to do this with the modules that are set up. Users are able to record case notes and track the hours of their staff, as well as a host of other data collection activities to obtain important metrics for subsequent reporting.

“We build a system that allows [NFPs] to not only manage their reporting requirements to government, it also provides them the appropriate tools to manage their actual day-to-day work.”

The CDS platform is a cloud-based solution with over 50 modules built into it, which are targeted towards different niches of the NFP sector.

“When a new customer signs up to the service, the first thing we help them work out is what packages and modules already exist that relate to the service they provide and the funding that they’re receiving,” says Chris. “If necessary, we can also build additional modules to fill the gaps that may exist in the platform.”

CDS has a team of in-house developers based in Adelaide that create these bespoke systems and modules for customers. It also has a team that delivers training and support to organisations that use the platform.

“Ongoing support is important because their are a lot of changing requirements in this sector, particularly with different government programmes [emerging] and constant changes in government,” says Chris.

“Therefore, we don’t just roll out a system and walk away; there’s a really strong focus on maintaining that ongoing partnership and helping [NFPs]. The system continues to evolve with their needs.”

To deliver a platform that caters to niche markets with very specific needs requires plenty of research and development (R&D). A lot of time and resources have gone into making the CDS platform what it is today. Because of this, the company takes advantage of the R&D Tax Incentive, which enables them to balance the risk factor when experimenting and testing new developments.

“We’re embedded in a niche sector, so we take on a fair bit of risk. We have to put a lot of effort into analysing what the product may look like and then actually develop it and test it with the customer base,” says Chris.

It’s been an interesting journey, according to Chris. He admits he’s made both good and bad calls when it comes to R&D, but this it the very nature of R&D activities. And this is why the R&D Tax Incentive is such an important tool for business owners to have in their arsenals. It helps mitigate the financial risk that comes with R&D activities, and also helps with budgeting for such activities in the next financial year.

To process its R&D claim and get its rebate, CDS went through Nifty Forms. The company has used the service for two years in a row and Chris says the user experience has been seamless.

“I think the good thing is, just like with many legal or accounting services, if you feel like you need to talk to someone, you can. Nifty really stood out because they captured the core information that was needed. If necessary, they have a conversation to get the extra information they need which helped save both our times. Presumably, this also helps them deliver a faster, low cost, seamless service.”

Chris says that startups should seek to learn more about the R&D Tax Incentive eligibility. He feels the R&D Tax Incentive is quite under utilised in the startup space and that startups are the best candidates. Considering a majority of startups are doing R&D, especially in the early stages of their lifecycle, it’s very likely they will be eligible. Startups also have very limited funds, so it makes sense for them to get as much back as they possibly can. Nifty Forms is designed to make sure that process is easy.

This article is sponsored by PwC | Nifty Forms. You can check if your startup is eligible for the R&D Tax Incentive by clicking here.

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