Invoice Processing Services for Research Communications

View Andrew Malcolm’s portfolio and descriptions of additional communications services at http://AndrewMalcolm.MyPortfolio.com

Executive Summary

Malcolm Communications is pivoting from providing research communications services to providing invoice processing services to research communications professionals (RCPs) and researchers. It’s mission is to create more contracts between researchers and RCPs than ever before. Andrew Malcolm’s career history in research communications has indicated that the administrative task of processing invoices for research spending is particularly complex and time-consuming, so much so that many contracts that could form between RCPs and researchers fail to materialize. Two additional services are naturally provided through invoice processing: 1) mediating the creation of contracts between RCPs and researchers, 2) providing payment to RCPs far in advance of what they would expect if processing the invoices themselves. The company is in its initial stage, research through consultation, and looking ahead to the next stage: completing work for the first set of contracts and initiating development of template contracts, invoices and processes.

Contact Information for Interested Parties

Andrew Malcolm: andrewrichardmalcolm@icloud.com

Company Overview

Malcolm Communications is based in the Waterloo region and it serves research communications professionals (RCPs) and researchers in Ontario. Our fundamental service is invoice processing, which the company has identified as a means of making the working relationship between researchers and RCPs far easier and more appealing.

Definitions

Research Communications Professionals are defined here as writers, editors, media producers, publishers and developers that are employed by researchers for work involving grant proposals, the dissemination of research results to academic and general audiences, and in some cases research design (e.g. building websites that gather case-study data).

Researchers that these services are marketed towards are researchers with funding intended for academic research work, and that stipulate an allowance for contracting research communications professionals. Note that Malcolm Communications does not intend to exclude anyone from its services, only to communicate specifically to those who likely face the problems the company intends to solve.

Mission Statement

Malcolm Communications’ mission is to improve the job market for research communications contracts so that more contracts are created between researchers and research communications professionals than ever before.

History and Current Status

Malcolm Communications is the company name used to present Andrew Malcolm’s communications services to researchers, and now the venture described here on MalcolmCommunications.com. The company allowed Andrew to explore the marketplace for research communications services in Southern Ontario, and build on his knowledge, first earned through six years of full-time employment at the University of Toronto, of financial administration as it pertains to research grants and the university administrative bodies that oversee and process research spending.

Malcolm Communications continues to build institutional knowledge of the market place and financial administration through conversations with members of Andrew’s professional network, and gather additional research on the viability and best direction for the business by consulting with university administrators, researchers interested in employing RCPs through the company, and RCPs interested in being represented by the company.

Andrew Malcolm would appreciate an email from anyone who fits the list above or is willing to be consulted on Malcolm Communications’ value proposition: andrewrichardmalcolm@icloud.com

Markets and Services

The fundamental service Malcolm Communications will provide is invoice processing. While this at first sounds like a small and simple administrative process to be completed by researchers and RCPs, the company’s experience in the market place has shows that invoices are often not simple, having requirements for construction and submission that are not immediately obvious to the researcher or the RCPs, and are sometimes not small, with long time frames and many communications required before RCPs can receive payment. In Malcolm Communications’ experience, this sometimes led to researchers paying for services out-of-pocket because they felt bad about the invoicing process, and going through the more difficult process of recovering the funds themselves. Malcolm Communications assumes that many contracts that could form between researchers and RCPs fail to materialize simply because one or both parties wish to avoid these difficulties.

Malcolm Communications will solve these difficulties, not only by specializing in writing invoices, but by forming relationships with university administrators that can help refine the processing of invoices in-bulk by working out template contracts, invoices and processes for the various kinds of work communications professionals complete for researchers. Malcolm Communications will establish these template contracts, invoices and processes through constant consultation with RCPs, researchers, and university and grant administrators. The company’s interest will be unbiased because our initial involvement in the contract creation will be as mediator: both the RCP and the researcher must agree to use the company’s services before Malcolm Communication can complete the work and collect its 10% fee from the invoiced amount, and so the company’s profit seeking interest rests in creating agreement between the parties, rather than a marketplace that favours one side or the other.

Service Description

The fundamental service Malcolm Communications provides is invoice processing for completed freelance research communications contracts. However, two additional services are natural off-shoots: facilitating the connection and contract-creation between researchers and research communication professionals (RCPs), and providing payment to RCPs far in advance of what they could expect if processing the invoice themselves with the University.

Detailed Description

The last ten years have seen increasing demand on researchers to create and publish writing and media about their research to the general public as well as their own professional network. There is of course no shortage of freelance talent available to do this type of work for researchers, and most of the research grants awarded to researchers allows for them to use part of the funds for communications projects; indeed many funding bodies help, persuade or insist that researchers engage in communications activities that will make the general public more aware of their work. Malcolm Communications believes, however, that researchers often don’t hire freelance  RCPS for work they would like to have completed because of the difficult administrative processes that are often involved in processing research spending, and that RCPs often fail to sell their services to researchers because they don’t understand the nature of research funding, or they are resistant because of the complex and time consuming process involved in receiving payment from a university.

Malcolm Communications makes it easier for researchers and RCPs to complete a contracted job by taking over the invoicing process. We work with the researcher and the communications professional to establish the initial contract, ensuring that the work to be completed is covered under the research grant. From this point the communications professional is essentially working for Malcolm Communications. Once the researcher has asserted that the work is complete, Malcolm Communications pays the communications professional and from this point assumes accountability for the work and the final task of processing the invoice. Our fee is earned by subtracting 10% from the invoiced amount.

It’s important to note that two additional services will be provided because they are natural offshoots of invoice processing, and because these additional services will entice RCPs and researchers into working with Malcolm Communications. The first service is in helping researchers and RCPs connect and create the contract. We will actively build a list of RCPs willing to work with Malcolm Communications, and actively seek out researchers who have communications work and are also interested in Malcolm Communications’ services. In this way we will act as a mediator between researchers and communications professional. The second service is to provide fast payment to RCPs, far in advance of what the university would provide. We feel this is important because slow payments make creating contracts for small jobs less appealing. This will also entice RCPs to agree to using Malcolm Communications, even if at first it’s difficult for them to see the value in having the company take-over the invoice processing.

We believe there is a general value to research communications that will come with the company acting as a central place for communication and knowledge exchange between RCPs, researchers, and grant and university administrators. As research communications practices evolve, incorporate new technologies and mediums, and indoctrinate new professionals, Malcolm Communications can help define the types of work completed and how that work falls under funding guidelines and university policy. Much of this will happen quite naturally as Malcolm Communications works to standardize its own processes, contracts and invoices through consultations with all parties.

Stage of Development

Malcolm Communications’ invoice processing service will develop continually through constant consultation with university administrators, researchers and RCPs. Discussions may involve types of work that fall under funding guidelines, ranges of acceptable pay, and streamlined processes for invoices. Because Andrew Malcolm is already experienced in processing invoices for communications work, the product is already developed in preliminary form. Template invoices and processes, however, will require consultation with all parties through the creation and completion of the first set of contracts.

Andrew Malcolm would appreciate an email from research communications professionals and researchers interested in using Malcolm Communications’ services during this first stage: andrewrichardmalcolm@icloud.com