With many institutions now fully re-engaged in research, they’re doing so with an increasing eye toward research administration efficiency. The United States spent about $550B on research in 2020. Unsurprisingly, much of this was funded by the federal government and private industry. Also, every bit of it conducted under the watchful eye of regulators, research administrators, and funders. As such, research institutions are increasingly relying on an electronic research administration system to do the hard work. This is because a single comprehensive system can do the job of compiling, tracking, documenting, evaluating, approving and accounting for research, all in one place.
Let’s dig into what an electronic research administration system (eRA system) is, and how it can benefit research institutions.
Finding efficiency with an electronic research administration system
An electronic research administration system can revolutionize the way your organization manages research programs. The results can be transformative. For example, the New Jersey Institute of Technology increased its research volume by 46% after implementing such a system. Not only this, but they also achieved an R1 classification. These kinds of accomplishments can only be possible with a smooth and efficient research program.
Managing the life cycle of a grant
Many organizations use their eRA to manage grants. You can think about grant management in two parts. The first is what happens before an award. The second is what happens after an award is received. Although these are two different processes, they are interrelated. This is because what you do to get an award has a major impact on how you manage it.
In a scenario like this, using an electronic research administration system that manages both pre-award and post-award functions is essential. One integrated system to manage both processes can reduce the amount of data collection and data entry throughout the life cycle of the grant. With integrated budgeting tools, you can:
- propose, adjust and manage the budget
- incorporate changes,
- document expenses
- process approvals easily
All of these features lead to better and more purposeful management processes.
Route proposals efficiently
Routing can make or break the grant management process. A best-in-class eRA system makes routing both fast and easy. Ultimately, flexibility is the key. This is because not every proposal, protocol or budget needs to follow the same routing algorithm. In many cases, the system can seek simultaneous approval from many different authorizers. By carefully managing workflow, an electronic research administration system can reduce the approval process from weeks to days.
Dump the paper for an electronic research administration system
Paperless systems bring a lot of efficiency to the process. An electronic research administration system stores all relevant documentation electronically. This includes everything from proposal to closeout, electronically. As a result, it reduces the amount of storage space an organization needs to have. The paperless storage also ensures that no part of the program’s documentation ever gets lost or destroyed. And an eRA can create a detailed audit trail, so if questions arise, the system records will show who did what and when.
Anywhere, anytime access
An electronic research administration system can eliminate delays that arise when a required authorizer is out of the office. For example, users can access a cloud-based eRA from anywhere. As long as they have Internet access, the eRA is within reach. This enables researchers and administrators to stay on top of a process, even when they’re not in the office.
Elevating the visibility of the research administration process
An electronic research administration system provides a high degree of visibility into the process of research administration. For example, team members will immediately know the status of their projects. They’ll also know when something needs their approval – or someone else’s. An electronic research administration system can proactively seek approvals, issue compliance reminders, flag missing information and track critical dates and deadlines. By managing details electronically, institutions can eliminate wasted time once and for all.
Submit proposals easily
An industry-leading eRA system does more than just catalogue proposal development and award management. Research administration tools can also prepare and submit research proposals to government funders like the NIH through Grants.gov. Users can even clone and modify proposals for submission to multiple funders. Systems that compile and validate proposal submissions eliminate errors and enhance the process of funding searches.
Business intelligence at your fingertips
An electronic research administration system can deliver critical business intelligence to the institution’s decision makers. Better still, it can do so quickly and easily. For example, let’s say someone needs a detailed breakdown on specific expenses. Or they want an overall picture of an institution’s research dollars. In either case, an electronic research administration can deliver answers quickly and correctly.
Many universities have chosen to “in-house” their research administration tools and provide their own support. This sounds good in theory. However, it also involves the commitment of a lot of resources. In the age of efficiency, minimizing research overhead is the goal. This is because many research funders will not pay for overhead costs, or these are strictly limited.
With an electronic research administration system that resides in the cloud, universities can:
- reduce their overhead
- redirect their in-house support resources to other critical tasks
- increase the security of their research data
This approach also makes it easy to know exactly how much the institution spends annually on research administration.
Leveraging enterprise electronic research administration systems
An electronic research administration system can also leverage the institution’s systems-of-record. In addition to eliminating data re-keying and data entry errors, a best-in class electronic research administration system can integrate with existing HR and Financial system. This eliminates data silos on campus that contain conflicting or out-of-date information. Better still, integration is a two-way street. Your research system can also help keep your systems-of-record up-to-date by feeding the latest data into them.
Which electronic research administration system is right for you?
For many universities and research institutions, finding ways to make their research administration process more efficient will maximize their research dollars. With the above information, we are speaking to the benefits and integrity of our own platform. There are many other eRA systems out there with varying degrees of quality and reliability. Many of our customers have made the switch from other eRA systems because they see the advantages that ours alone offers. In every aspect, Streamlyne delivers a comprehensive, cloud-based enterprise research administration system. It efficiently manages the research administration process and reduces time and effort spent on research administration tasks.
For more information about Streamlyne Research and how Streamlyne Research can reduce your institution’s overall research administration costs, please contact us today.