Some institutions consider developing in-house systems to meet federally mandated requirements for time and effort reporting. However, they face a major challenge: identifying the true cost and feasibility of this.

A research study by PricewaterhouseCoopers for ADP concluded that organizations routinely underestimate the real cost of building and operating in-house systems. According to the study, failing to account for hidden costs is the primary reason this occurs. Hidden costs typically represent more than 50% of the actual cost of building and administering an in-house system, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

What are the hidden costs?

A true and accurate cost analysis must account for hidden costs, which include the following:

  • Cost of labor for development staff
  • Cost of consultants, facilities, vendor fees, and staff overhead related to the development process
  • Non-developmental labor costs associated with compliance issues and requirements for time and effort systems and grant management systems
  • Cost of planning, building, testing, installing, and implementing a new, unproven solution
  • Cost and time drain on in-house technical staff to support, maintain, and develop upgrades
  • Cost to other normally supported areas due to the diversion of technical staff as they implement and support the new in-house system
  • Unforeseen costs of adapting to new and changing technologies (for example, the internet migration of the 2000s and more recent widespread mobile adoption)

Additional considerations

In addition to hidden costs, there are other significant factors that add to the complexity of in-house systems:

  • Accurate, verifiable, and consistent time and effort documentation is required for salaries and wages of employees working on federally funded programs
  • Time and effort records are subject to review during audits, compliance monitoring, public records requests, or other situations requiring verifiable evidence that time funded by the federal grant was spent working toward the grant’s objectives
  • Before completing certification, institutions must create, implement, and execute their own time and effort policies
  • Knowledge of the federal regulations concerning time and effort is crucial to ensure the accurate design and building of a system that will meet these requirements
  • Rules and requirements to federal regulations change often, requiring ongoing changes to the in-house system
  • Time and effort certification requires the ability to interface with and extract information from your payroll system to ensure accurate record-keeping and reporting
  • Cost sharing and salary retroactive changes often become a concern

A more comprehensive evaluation

Once hidden costs are considered, an in-house solution becomes less attractive. Time and effort management is a complex task best managed by professionals who have experience with the effort reporting process and requirements. At Cayuse, our knowledgeable team devotes 100% of its resources to helping institutions simplify effort reporting, certification, and other research administration processes. We created Project Effort with your unique needs in mind. Project Effort is a proven solution helping institutions meet federal effort reporting requirements at a cost dramatically lower than in-house systems.

If your institution is currently evaluating options for meeting the federally mandated requirements for effort reporting, talking to Cayuse is an important first step. You’ll learn how an affordable, off-the-shelf solution can meet all of your effort reporting needs, eliminating the expense, frustration, and uncertainty of an in-house solution. You’ll experience the power and flexibility of Project Effort and see why more institutions call it the best value in the industry.

To speak to a Project Effort expert or arrange a live demo, contact us or call 877-689-3661 today.

See how Cayuse’s post-award solutions can save you time and help you stay compliant.