Top 4 Reasons To Ditch Manual Processes
And Get Streamlined
You’ve got a problem.
You know you need an eRA solution like Streamlyne Research to improve productivity and create efficiencies at your institution, but your current processes are so manual and off-line that you don’t even have any benchmarks to measure any potential improvement against.
In the absence of hard metrics, how do you know that acquiring an eRA solution will help? What’s more, when all is said and done, how do you justify that the decision to purchase was worth it?
The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a customer of Streamlyne. We recently interviewed a manager from NJIT about their journey.
DISCLAIMER: This should not be construed as an endorsement from NJIT or any affiliated organization.
NJIT is an R1 research university that manages over $162 million in research expenditures per year that had the same issues. For them, part of the answer was Streamlyne’s ability to provide such metrics, to increase transparency of processes, and to report on these activities. At the same time, Streamlyne enhanced their work and office functions in a variety of ways that are more qualitative than quantitative. Outlined below are the top four areas which have been improved by their use of Streamlyne.
- Approval Routing: Previously, hard copy proposals and approval sheets were sent from the PI to department chair to college dean before arriving in the research office. From the central office there was no systematic way to know who was working on a proposal, how many proposals may be sitting on an individual’s desk, and so they had only limited information to plan. Hard copies can also be lost in transit or delivered to the wrong office. Streamlyne does away with these problems. As soon as a proposal is started in Streamlyne they can monitor its progress, remind approvers of items that need their attention, and have an accurate gauge of how many proposals will be arriving for submission for any particular deadline.
- Managing with Data: Relying on so many manual and offline systems made managing data and managing with data extremely laborious. Moreover, the data was only available to those that had access to the offline spreadsheets. Streamlyne Reporting allows them to provide academic leadership with real-time data on any part of proposal or award activity that they want, whether it is to develop strategic plans, review students support, or use in promotion and tenure consideration. They are also able to use data to better understand their processes (e.g. how long does it take to get a proposal through approval routing?) and human resource needs (e.g. how many grant specialist hours will be needed to submit all proposals due next Wednesday? Does departmental activity warrant a full time grant specialist for the department?). They are able to react to data both about upcoming proposals and current awards in a timely way without having to devote precious person-hours to continually updating spreadsheets.
- Award Set-up: The use of the Streamlyne award module has increased their efficiency and allowed for uniform data collection and award milestone tracking. Before using Streamlyne, the award set-up and management process was largely done offline in manual processes. Grant specialists would prepare a budget that would then need to be sent to a grant accountant; tracking award milestone and reporting requirements would be done in offline spreadsheets with limited availability to all interested parties. Now, a grant specialist sets up the award, including budget and reporting schedule, in Streamlyne. Much of the budget data is pushed to their financial system, which simplifies the setup process for accountants. With award reporting requirements entered in Streamlyne, they insure that all relevant individuals have access to the same schedules and they can prepare management reports for the entire university in a systematic and uniform way.
- Integrated Research Information System: Streamlyne allows them to integrate many research systems into a single grant management system. So far, they have taken five disparate manual systems and replaced them with Streamlyne: proposal development and submission, research conflict of interest reporting, IRB, subcontracts, and award management.
For all institutions out there who are in the same situation as NJIT was, with numerous manual processes and scarcely a metric, please use this story as inspiration that though the improvements you achieve may be difficult to quantify, they are still real and compelling. Additionally, now you will have those elusive benchmarks which will give you tremendous insight into your own operations, enabling you to drive improvements even further.