With the increased federal emphasis on financial compliance tracking for grant administration, it is no longer sufficient to simply write a policy and publish it on your website. As many of us know from experience, telling someone they must do a task a specific way will often be met with resistance. The “just do it this way” tactic, especially in financial compliance tracking, doesn’t sit very well with anyone at our institution: colleagues, partners or faculty. Until the members of your campus understand the “why” behind what needs to be accomplished, you may receive a begrudging and minimal amount of compliance instead of cooperation. Here are some concepts to consider when building relationships to ensure financial compliance tracking across the institution and with collaborators.
Acknowledge the interdependent nature and complexities of what we do
- Strive to understand restrictions, time constraints, and regulations that must be followed throughout the life of the project
- Identify and manage the impacts each area has on the other
- Recognize financial compliance tracking begins with the proposal
- Consider the flexibility required to adapt to variations across sponsor requirements
Recognize the Importance of Building Cross-Campus Connections
- Obtain buy-in from the top of your organization
- Collaborate with aligned administrative offices including Human Resources, Accounts Payable, Development Office, Departmental staff, Institutional Research, and Internal Audit
- Work together to seek financial compliance tracking from academic departments
- Build a partner culture, not a customer one
- Involve multiple levels of your partners
Determine who has the authority to design and implement policies
- Policy or Procedure – address the importance and role of each document
- Define ownership of policies – existing and lacking
- Determine who has the ability to authorize a policy. This may include the Faculty Senate, appropriate Vice Chancellor or President, yourself or a combination
- Does a policy need to be expedited? Is it a new situation on campus or an audit?
- Know which unit is responsible for each policy. Sometimes a situation requires a team to implement a new policy
Exploring the financial policy and procedure universe
- Interpret the regulations and consider what they don’t say
- Understand what makes sense for your institutional culture. PUI’s don’t need the same policies a medical school does
- Integrate the policy into your institutional culture and strategic plan
- Use peer institutions as resources
Key management tools for financial compliance tracking
In a high functioning organization, there is clear and frequent communication to ensure all partners understand their role and the role of others. This, in turn, supports a broad understanding of objectives and requirements that crosses institutional boundaries. By sharing information you can garner support and consistent financial compliance tracking within the research enterprise. Some effective methods to maintain this level of unity are:
- Establishing collaborative networks within the institution to build empathy, knowledge and increase cooperation.
- Using multiple methods of communication to disseminate the knowledge necessary to achieve a cohesive team to best serve the institution and faculty.
- Deciding who will be trained, how often and with what method. This will then be extrapolated to a broader group so they can understand how to conduct good financial compliance tracking for sponsored programs
- Utilizing checklists for as many processes and decisions as possible. No one remembers everything all the time.
Putting it All Together
- Develop an institutional compliance assessment process
- Is there an inventory of current policies?
- Are there gaps and are they critical?
- Are the policies up to date with sponsor and Uniform Guidance changes?
- Link policies, processes and forms on one site so the user can find the package more easily
- Determine if the manual will be integrated into the institutional policy manual and/or be located on your website
- Make it easy to find. If a user cannot find a policy when the need arises, there won’t be a high level of compliance
- Try to have a visible link to your website easily accessible
- Build a team that ensures successful implementation
- Update and manage policies and procedures with frequent review
To conduct financial compliance tracking and oversee the related communication invest in a grant management software solution. IT Works offers a variety of solutions that are supported by an experienced implementation and support team.