What are the different sorts of SRED that exist?

Shop-floor SRED is a very common type of SRED in manufacturing environments.  Shop-floor SRED means that the experimental work is carried out in the regular production facilities themselves, rather than in an experimental facilities.  One of the advantages of shop-floor SRED is that it can be quick and cheap to set up experiments vs investing in a test environment that may require substantial investment to replicate the machinery and systems under test from the production environment. 

SRED can occur in agricultural settings.  Here experiments can center around crop production where one variable is changed on each of several plots of land under cultivation, then the crop yields are compared vs control plots which are grown using known methodologies.

SRED can be claimed for software development.  This is the most widely claimed vertical for SRED for the past several years.  For software to be claimed as SRED work, there must be evidence of experimental development going on.  It is not sufficient to claimcomputer programming activities or computer architecture or routine IT functions.

There are often three methodologies used to differentiate claimable software activities from routine non-SRED software work.  The first area to examine for SRED software work is scalability.  Scalability issues occur in many facets of software development. Scalability issues often result in SRED because resolving scalability concerns usually involves testing and experimental work.  Some aspects of scalability involve moving mainframe apps into pcs or even mobile phone environments. Moving standalone applications into the cloud involve different aspects of scaling.Response time, hardware constraints, memory disk or power restrictions can all lead to scalability issues that require experimentation to assess and resolve satisfactorily.

Another way to uncover SRED activities in software development is to perform the Software Conference test.  If one of the tech leads on your development team could go to a Software conference and deliver a 30 minute talk on lessons learned, things to avoid, technical takeaways from your software project then chances are you were engaged in SRED work.

The last hallmark of software SRED work is tools development.  Tools are a specific class of software that help you build other software. Because tools are used repeatedly, there is often an incentive to experiment and ensure that the tools are well written for the task at hand.  An example of tools development might be an Android software coder who decides that he wants to convert his 300 deep Android application library so that it can work on iPhones.  The developer can certainly use brute force techniques to manually convert his apps over from Android-only use such that they will function in the iphome environment.  He might be well served, however, to spend some resources upfront, and carry out some experimentation to determine how he might be able to automate some or all the steps required to modify his 300APPS SO THAT THEY WIILL BE SUITABLE FOR USEON IpHONES.  This experimental work that he carries out is called tools development and it represents SRED-eligible activities.

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