In effort to better serve its university stakeholders, the Office of Sponsored Programs has launched an electronic, web-based award management system that improves internal processes and overall quality control.

With continued growth of the research enterprise, the system was developed to create a more consistent and efficient post-award function so that the office can more efficiently meet the growing demands of research administration and increasing regulatory requirements.

The award system management system is now live.

“We have worked diligently to bring this product to fruition over the past few years, and after testing and refining it in collaboration with faculty, we are ready for multiple groups of internal stakeholders to have access,” said Trudy Riley, associate vice president for research and innovation and director of the Office of Sponsored Programs. “This tool provides specific views tailored to roles within the research community and is expected to continue to evolve as the needs of the university increase or change.”

The newly launched tool will assist department managers in managing sponsored research portfolios across their organization and provides different views based on designation. The faculty view will provide principal investigators a portfolio summary, a detailed view of individual awards with expenses for all grant funds, awards, and proposal documents; reporting and compliance functions; and final invoice deadlines.

Additionally, the new paperless system allows post-award associates to have better quality control coverage over many aspects of the sponsored project process, including budget overages, collections, reporting, proper indirect postings, and closeouts. Alerts are embedded in the system for when indirect adjustments need to be prepared, unpaid invoices need further review, financial report due dates, final invoice due dates, unmet cost share, or grants have expired. Also, the system provides a grant level budget view for all grant funds and allows associates to be more knowledgeable and efficient when serving as a backup for a fellow associate.

Led by Phaedra Lewis, post-award team leader, and Chris Dunavant, senior software engineer in Electronic Research Administration, the project commenced in 2017 as a partnership between post-award administrators and the information technology team in the Office of Research and Innovation. While some automated systems were already in place such as the project authorization notice and cost share tracker systems, this was the last of the post-award processes to be converted from a paper filing system to an online, web-based workflow.

System implementation for the program was rolled out in three phases to the various groups of stakeholders for testing. In July 2018, Phase One improvements provided post-award associates the ability to manage electronic files from their web browser. In addition to eliminating paper files, the system enhanced many of the post award functions. Each administrator is now able to see an up-to-date list of their projects on their own dashboard, giving them the ability to access those projects quickly and comprehensively. Additionally, all of the existing research electronic systems came together into a central location allowing associates to access all aspects of awards and expedite the information for departments and principal Investigators. All compliance documents are now linked to individual grants and viewed directly in the system, including Institutional Review Board, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Institutional Biosafety Committee approvals, Conflict Of Interest, and Technology Control Plans.

“After Phase One implementation for research administrators in the Office of Sponsored Programs, it became clear the system should be expanded to better serve the research community by providing views tailored to the department staff and faculty,” said Lewis.

After Lewis and the team met with department stakeholders, provided demos, and collected feedback, Phase Two, which included a departmental view, was released in June 2019, bundling myriad information related to sponsored projects and compliance into one easy to use web-based interface. The new features allow department managers and fiscal technicians who are key to monitoring all aspects of faculty research projects a means of helping them manage sponsored research portfolios across their organizations. Prior to the release of this phase, information was often scattered among several applications making accessibility cumbersome.

In June 2020, the Office of Sponsored Programs continued to build out the system with the development of a faculty/investigator view in Phase Three. A voluntary group of faculty and principal investigators piloted the project that brought together multiple sources of information and timely alerts to help faculty and investigators manage portfolios of sponsored research projects. The faculty view provides investigators a means of accessing their sponsored projects and compliance requirements from a single location, a detailed view of individual awards with expenses for all funds, award and proposal documents, compliance, no-cost extension due dates, and final invoice deadlines.

Register for training sessions:

The virtual demo will provide faculty an overview of the award management system, including how multiple sources of information are brought together, embedded alerts to assist with management of research portfolios, a detailed view of individual awards with expenses for all funds, award and proposal documents, reporting, compliance, no-cost extension due dates, final invoice deadlines, and much more.

Nov. 17: 10 - 11:30 a.m.

https://virginiatech.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEpd-yqqTwtHtGOU-3CD8aPiawdwKk68t1R

Dec. 1: 10 - 11:30 a.m. https://virginiatech.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIodO-hqT0rHNx10J7owELpX9xtu1QsiIwx

For more information, questions, or feedback regarding the post-award system, contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at osp@vt.edu