Research & Innovation Services

New Electronic Environment for Research Proposals and Awards

Over the next twelve months Research and Innovation Services (RIS) will be delivering a project which will enable significant improvements to the way in which research proposals are developed, costed and submitted and by which research awards are managed.

What we will be introducing is a fully integrated Electronic Environment with an intuitive and adaptable user interface. This will support an improved research proposal and award management process including a new costing tool to replace pFACT.

The Electronic Environment (EE) project was approved by the Vice Chancellor's Group in 2014 with the remit of looking at ways of improving our grants and awards processes and, in particular, considering how current activities and practices would benefit from a move towards a more electronic process.

The Project Board is Chaired by Diane Aderyn, Director of Finance and Commercial Services and includes representatives from key stakeholder groups across the University. There is also a project team and an academic user group, both of which have been involved in an comprehensive exercise to identify a preferred system solution which will meet our user needs.

Why are we changing things?

There are a number of reasons why we are moving to a new Electronic Environment, some of the key drivers and expected benefits are as follows:-

  • pFACT our existing costing tool is becoming obsolete and urgently needs to be replaced before it fails.
  • Our research base is growing steadily and in order to maintain this success we need to have more efficient processes for developing and managing proposals and awards, including enhanced integration between RIS and other professional services to reduce current barriers to setting up projects.
  • We also want to optimise our pre-award support and further improve the quality and value of services provided by reducing time spent on paperwork.
  • The new system will also facilitate compliance with other institutional commitments such as the Concordat to Support Research Integrity.

What happens next?

The next phase of development, running from October 2015 - November 2015 will involve an intensive period of configuration, testing and implementation of the system.

Phase 1 (October 2015 - June 2016): Configuration, testing and roll out of new costing tool with electronic approvals. This will be piloted with two departments between March and June 2016 before being rolled out to the whole University over the summer.

Phase 2 (February 2016 - November 2016): Configuration, testing and roll out of full proposal to award management system. We expect to “go live” with the full system in Autumn next year. The roll out of the final system will be supported by a comprehensive programme of training and support.

Dr Jon Hunt, Director of RIS says: “This is a very exciting initiative with huge potential to revolutionise our grants and awards processes and deliver a system offering an excellent user experience, supporting effective proposal development, submission, award management and closure.

"Over the next months we will be working closely with researchers and other stakeholders to ensure that the system is built to incorporate all key requirements and deliver what is needed. As such we are actively looking for volunteers who would be willing to take part in workshops and testing exercises. Please contact us if your department would like to take part.”

Further information

If you are interested in the workshops and testing exercises, or a department talk, please contact:

Alison Evans
Programme Manager
Tel: +44 (0)1225 38 3350

Chris Cooper
Project Coordinator
Tel: +44 (0)1225 38 6363