What do research-intensive universities and institutions need to keep in mind when selecting grant management software?
Before evaluating what factors to keep in mind though, we need to take a look at the reasons universities and institutions evaluate grant management software. For many research institutions, there is an effort underway to look closely at business processes with an eye toward improvement. Many research administrators we speak with look to achieve an accurate, efficient grants tracking process that maximizes the efforts of their research institutions.
But despite the availability of grant management solutions that can streamline and automate the entire process, we still speak with many departments, offices of sponsored research, and other teams that rely on manual methods and spreadsheets when tracking grants.
We see many administrators challenged when selecting a grant management system specifically designed to improve the process and cut wasted effort.
As a starting point, noted here are five tips to keep in mind for research institutions evaluating grant management software products. While not an exhaustive list by any means, these tips are a good starting point to get the process going.
1) Configurable: Be sure the software system can be configured to address the needs of the entire process – from pre and post award administration, grant accounting and complex financial management, effort certification and reporting, to recharge center management. Each institution operates by its own set of processes. The system should be flexible enough to reflect the unique environment.
2) Scalable: Check that the solution can grow with the organization. How many users can access the system? Is it easy to handle the projected number of submissions? What about future activity? Monitoring future proposals requires tracking the number being submitted, who is submitting, the amount of future funding, when it would start, etc.
3) Integrated with other systems: It’s also wise to select a system that can be implemented independently or combined as a comprehensive system. Be sure the grant management software solution can interface with the institution’s general ledger, payroll and other back office systems.
4) Installation, implementation, training, support: Ease of installation is a key factor. Consider how easy it is for pre-loading of grants data. Look for a software vendor that simplifies the installation and implementation of the grants management software in your office. Make sure the vendor offers comprehensive project management, training and planning services to streamline the pre-loading of data from existing systems into the backend of the grants management software products. Look closely at the agreement to determine the support available once the system is live.
5) Compliance features: The solution should easily handle proper financial and research compliance policies and procedures. As an example, financial compliance involves the verification of appropriate charges. All charges must fall within the scope of the research project and comply with sponsor policies. Financial compliance involves the oversight of both purchasing and personnel activities including time and effort certification. In addition to financial compliance is research compliance, such as IRB, IACUC, IBC, etc.. Additional compliance policies and procedures include time and effort certification, financial conflict of interest, proper scientific conduct, etc. It’s important that the solution offer features that help with compliance.
Further Insight into Selecting Grant Management Software
In today’s competitive research environment, considering grant management software is more important than ever. We’ve offered five “thought starters” to help research teams get started in their evaluation and selection process.
For an in-depth look at the latest generation of grant management software and other tools, contact the IT Works team