Periodically reviewing an organization’s lines of communication in contract and grant management is valuable. The review process ensures all partners across each role and unit are included and receive the necessary information. This review should examine multiple factors, such as: who needs to know what information and how the communication is executed.
There is an increasing amount of people involved in the management of grants and contracts who need to stay informed of multiple issues. For example, departments are held accountable for spending decisions and timely reports. Compliance committees are responsible for the oversight of Federal regulatory compliance requirements with increasing accountability in animal and human research and environmental safety concerns.
Common Issues with Communication in Contract and Grant Management
Often the optimal form of communication is face to face. Face to face exchanges of knowledge support an understanding of the intended message and enable the communicator to “read” the delivery and receipt. However, there is simply not enough time in the day to meet with all partners (individually or as a group) to share the necessary information and follow up as needed.
Therefore, the majority of communication on a campus is either verbal or on paper. However, in today’s busy workplace competing messages are received almost non-stop. Bombarded by multiple sources of information, we may hear but not process or retain the information. Paper gets dropped into the “To Do” stack, possibly never to be seen or addressed again. Depending upon the conditions, verbal communication runs this risk, especially if it is critical to the execution of a sponsored program.
Alleviating the Issues
Grants management systems are more commonly utilized, and as such many institutions are turning to these software solutions for their communication needs. The systems streamline and increase the reliability of messages sent to the entire grants community. Grants management software provides and supports the capabilities that produce more automated, standardized notices and communication. Consider the amount of time it currently costs a Sponsored Programs Office to track due dates for reports, complete paper forms, and send an email reminder to a designated party. Often these reminders must be sent to multiple individuals, such as the accounting office, the PI, co-PI’s, department chairs and the compliance office. The sender needs to copy and individually mail the message, or construct an email with specific recipients. This process can be automated by utilizing a grants management system. Designing a process within the system to key off specific dates and automatically generate an electronic reminder based on the software’s data eliminates the necessity for tickler reminders that generate that same message. One may choose to use this function to send a reminder 120 days before a grant is scheduled to end. Basing the automated message on specific data elements customizes it for those involved in the communication in contract and grant management.
Example on how to Optimize the Software:
The following is an example of how to use grants management software to alleviate the issues regarding communication in contract and grant management.
- Maintain data within the grants management software. This includes personnel such as the PI, Co-PI, Department Chairs, responsible grants officer and any other in “need to know” positions. The data also includes specific due dates such as the project end date. These are usually entered when a grant is initially set up.
- Create a standard message for a given task. These tasks include the no cost extension, final report and protocol due date.
- Design a protocol to search for data matching a parameter. The system then searches on a daily basis, locating all records that meet the criteria. For example, a software user could search for all grants scheduled to close in 120 days.
Other uses for this automated technique that assists with the lines of an organization’s communication in contract and grant management are:
- Reports’ deadlines
- Animal and human protocol expiration
- Other compliance requirements
The grants management system can serve to expedite and streamline communication in contract and grant management. While initially it can be somewhat time consuming to create the notices, the effort to automate notices can relieve a great deal of manual paperwork, improve accuracy, and decrease the probability of missing a deadline. If your institution is currently primarily paper, analyze how the forms and due dates are completed and distributed. Face to face communication should always be utilized, but complimenting that interaction with additional data and information can improve the accuracy of information while providing additional opportunities for Sponsored Programs staff to support the research enterprise. The more these techniques are implemented, the more relationships are built across the institution.
IT Works offers a variety of these solutions that are innovative, easy to use, and diverse in report selection. The implementation and use of our technology is supported by a team with research administration experience and the knowledge of how to tailor a system to meet an individual’s needs. For more information regarding IT Works solutions, contact our team.