The lifecycle of a grant can pose challenges to the Office of Sponsored Programs, as well as the institution as a whole. When proposals are submitted the natural hope is they will be funded and the research can begin. Large projects can be complex to manage, especially if they involve subrecipient partners, additional staff, and monitoring requirements. One of the keys to successful grant management, from award to termination, is proactively preparing- at a minimum informally- as soon as the proposal is submitted. This requires cooperation and communication across multiple institutional units and any partners. This blog will focus on the roles that the Office of Sponsored Programs and the Institution hold during the process. In a subsequent blog, we will consider duties held by the Principal Investigator and Department.
The Office of Sponsored Programs’ and the Institution’s grant management responsibilities usually include:
- OSP budget and personnel
- Management of complex projects
- Budgets dependent upon IDC/F&A recovery
Office of Sponsored Programs and Personnel
The Office of Sponsored Programs must have skilled personnel to manage and support both the submission of proposals and the execution of awards. Trying to justify future personnel needs can be a fine line to walk. If growth is anticipated, the office will need to increase their staff to support the influx in funding and projects. However, staff increases often only occur after the growth has actually been realized. It is a tedious and interdependent cycle. Monitoring proposal submissions and estimating the probabilities of obtaining more funding can provide a tangible argument for a gradual staff increase. The easiest way to monitor these factors is by utilizing a grant management software system with capability for tracking the awards historically. When calculating the possibilities and preparing for an increase in staffing, be sure to include all the relevant issues. For example, along with personnel costs, adding additional positions may necessitate the acquirement of additional space, equipment and professional education.
Conversely, if there is an anticipated downward trend for a substantial period, the Office of Sponsored Programs may face demands from the institution to decrease or reorganize the current staff.
Office of Sponsored Programs and Complexity
An additional factor in estimating the growth or reduction of external funding is the anticipated complexity of new projects. Demands on the Office of Sponsored Programs for a simple, single investigator lab oriented research project normally require less time than a complex, multi-investigator, multi-institutional long-term clinical trial. Accounting for the complexity factor when estimating for future volume will allow the Office of Sponsored Programs to document the necessary skills and personnel required.
When assessing future growth it is critical to consider the demands on all the units involved. For instance, Accounts Receivable, Purchasing, and Human Resources may also experience an increase in workload and will need to be included in resource assessments.
Office of Sponsored Programs and Indirect Costs
The Institution and Office of Sponsored Programs also need to analyze budgets that are dependent on Indirect Cost recovery. If the Office of Sponsored Programs is supported through Indirect Cost recovery, an anticipated downward trend may require institutional funds to continue funding at the current level. Other areas that could also be affected include the return of Indirect Costs to either a department or principal investigator, tuition remissions, research staff salary support, internal grant funding, and the utilization of Indirect Cost recovery by Business Affairs or Finance.
Managing the Pipeline
Managing a grant funding pipeline is an on-going process of collaboration and communication amongst all partners involved in funded projects. Whether supporting a potential proposal by identifying funding sources, assisting in proposal preparation, ensuring the institution is prepared for funded projects’ work demand, or closing out the inventory count and billing reports, each action ensures the Office of Sponsored Programs is prepared for the next step.
Having reporting capabilities to quickly access data and history supports trend analysis, identification of roadblocks to successful proposal writing and execution, as well as orderly closeouts. IT Works provides a variety of software solutions aimed at streamlining the grant management process. Talk with our team today to determine which option is right for your Office of Sponsored Programs.