As discussed in a previous blog, “The Ever Evolving World of Research Administrators,” there are many “hats” worn as a Research Administrator. One such “hat” that will be discussed in this blog is one of an Accountant or Financial Administrator.
The role of managing money is a major focus for Research Administrators. Much of their time is spent on spending money, projecting expenses and reporting on expenditures and projections. People both inside and outside of the organization rely on the financial information they provide to make informed decisions.
When making purchases, a diligent Financial Administrator must make sure that the purchase is necessary and in alignment with the award document. If the expenditure is capital in nature, the administrator must be aware of the federal cost principles as well as the requirements of the organization. It is important that proper authorization is obtained based on the organization requirements. The purchase requisition must be submitted in such a timely fashion as to have the products on hand when needed. Delayed purchases can in return delay the progress of the program which can lead to other undesired results long term.
The oversight of personnel expenses is another area of expense that is a large responsibility of the Research Administrator. The administrator must make sure that the correct percentage of costs are being allocated to the correct programs. Researchers may be allocated over several projects and the personnel allocations can be very complex and are handled best with the help of Grant Personnel Management software. Benefits and taxes must also be considered in the personnel cost calculations.
Projecting expenses and budgeting for those projections is also a large part of the Financial Administrator “hat.” It is very important that the Research Administrator use past data from a Grant Management System to properly project future expenses. Otherwise, a project could quickly become overspent without enough money to complete the project. Another possibility is that dollars will be left at the end of the project which could have been used for valuable research. The projections must make relevant calculations based on historical data. It is not financially sound for the projections to merely be based off of expectation. Things such as norms today versus the norms of the historical data must also be taken into account when making projections. One way to evaluate such historic and future projections is through the use of Salary Coverage Reports, covered in a previous blog.
People inside and outside of the organization look to the Research Administrator for accurate financial data. Those within the organization are most successful with up to date information on their expenses compared to their budget, generally presented as a Budget Report. Sponsors and others outside of the organization need accurate and timely financial data to form opinions on such things as program progress and future funding. It is the responsibility of the Research Administrator to provide the data to these different groups in an accurate and “reader friendly” format. It is also helpful for the Research Administrator to be available to answer questions on the reports that they provided to these individuals.
As the “hats” stack up for the Research Administrator, it is clear how important they are to the success of the project. Performing the job of Financial Administrator requires proficiency in multi-tasking and is no small assignment. However, it is one that every Research Administrator must carry out with excellence.
To learn more about Grant Management systems designed to assist Research Administrators with their various “hats”, contact IT Works today!