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Research Administrators are constantly monitoring critical dates on multiple projects. With each administrator responsible for many projects, how can they stay up to date on deadlines, protect the institution, and ensure compliance with sponsor requirements?

monitoring critical dates on grants

Monitoring critical dates on grants is an important part of the grant management process.

Missing a sponsor’s or compliance deadline can cause serious issues. A project could be closed with work still left to be completed. A protocol could expire, rendering any findings after that to be unallowable. New awards could be withheld by a sponsor if programmatic reporting is not timely.

Compliance is a shared responsibility between the PI and the Sponsored Program Office. Both need to ensure these dates are met for necessary actions. Grants management systems can provide that function.

Utilizing a Grants Management System as a Tool for Monitoring Critical Dates

When a project is set up or modified (i.e. a no cost extension or supplement), the enterprise accounting system and the grants management system are updated for those new dates. Through utilization of the data contained in the grants management system, reports can be generated with this current information. This decreases human error and forgetfulness. Rather than depending upon manual “tickler files” to be current and complete, automated reminders decrease the risk of missing deadlines. Having the capability to run ad hoc reports on a key field such as project end date enhances awareness and supports proactive planning. With the use of grants management software as the basis of the report, the confidence that the data is current is also enhanced. Some typical reports are:

  • Invoice due dates by project for upcoming month
  • Projects ending within ninety (90) days
  • Deadlines for no cost extensions (NCX)
  • Programmatic report deadlines

Using Automated Email Reminders

Reminders such as a project’s end date is within ninety days or that a no cost extension must be requested within a specific time period before the end date are invaluable. Many institutions are automating their “tickler” system to help faculty and appropriate institutional units with monitoring critical dates.

Automated emails (with the proper form attached) are delivered to key individuals notifying them that, for instance, a specific project will close in ninety days. These emails are based upon the end date in the system and the programmed “rule”: issue email X if today’s date is 90 days prior to “end date” to PI (based on role) and others as determined by the selected role in the grants management system. The rules are based upon data contained in the software, i.e. end date, protocol expiration, reporting dates or other critical dates and “back-counting” the number of days an action needs to occur prior to that date.

The same logic might also be employed for billing or renewals of subawards within the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). Any date data elements utilized in the software can be used as a trigger for reminders. Basing the recipients of each message on their role in the project allows the message to be sent to the appropriate person in a specific role – for example, to the Department Chair, even if the person changes.

Examples include:

  • the due date of a project report
  • the expiration of an animal/human protocol
  • project expiration within 60 and 30 days
  • end date of a project with a notice to close all outstanding purchase orders and standing orders

By eliminating the necessity for a grants office to manually monitor upcoming dates and related actions, post award personnel can streamline faculty and institutional organizational units receiving necessary reminders with more accuracy. Ensuring the notices are sent in a timely manner to the correct people provides an increased confidence that reminders/notices are reliable and effective. Compliance with reporting deadlines and other date dependent activities improves, while also minimizing the paperwork and manual updates involved.

For more information about how the use of grants management software solutions can help with research administration at your institution, contact IT Works.