To an outsider, working in a post-award office might sound like smooth sailing, because the funding has already been secured. If you’re a research administrator (RA), though, you know that’s a misconception. Post-award accounting can be a major challenge, especially when existing systems make it difficult to effectively manage grant finances. Whether paper-based or computer-based, data can be difficult to track down–especially when a PI wants to see it!
Here are the top three challenges we hear most often and how Cayuse Fund Manager can help ease the administrative burden of managing grant funds.
1. Managing spend-down
PIs are extremely busy (no surprise there), and often their finance systems are opaque and difficult to use. As a result, they can forget how much funding they have to spend and by when, particularly with multi-year projects. Sponsors don’t like this, because they want researchers to fully use their funding and do so in a timely manner. If PIs don’t use all of their awards in time, it can look like they asked for too much funding or can’t properly manage resources. Not spending allocated funding can also jeopardize their ability to secure funding in the future.
On the other hand, institutions may overspend on a grant. If departments do not budget properly (or at all), they may unknowingly use all of the funding from the award and have to ask the institution to cover the rest. Clearly this is also less than ideal.
That’s where Cayuse Fund Manager comes in. The interface shows up-to-date financial data and interfaces with systems such as General Ledger (GL), HR systems and payroll. The software helps to quickly identify budgetary and compliance risks before they get out of hand, which keeps everyone happy.
2. Providing transparency while protecting sensitive data
Research data is obviously highly sensitive and must be protected against unauthorized use. But access to many systems, like GL and accounting spreadsheets, is all or none. This can be frustrating when users need varying levels of access–for instance, the ability to see transaction data but not individual salaries.
PIs and RAs appreciate that Cayuse Fund Manager provides flexible control over user access, so various users can have access to specific categories of data. That way, RAs can provide transparency while protecting certain budget lines for sensitive data.
3. Reporting on financial data quickly and easily
Post-award administrators prepare financial reports for PIs on a regular basis (often monthly), but if a PI asks for an update in the meantime, it’s often too time-consuming. RAs are already overloaded, and tracking down financial information takes forever. For instance, pre-award and post-award RAs at the same institution often don’t have access to the same financial data, and the back-and-forth can take a lot of time.
RAs who currently use Cayuse Fund Manager have told us that the software makes it much easier to parse data and run reports for any time period, spending category or project they need. They appreciated that they could easily pull financial summaries, burn rate reports and P&L statements in a variety of formats, such as summary reports, transactional reports and month-to-month reports. Users can even forecast “what if” scenarios, such as the cost of hiring various full-time and part-time RAs and PIs, so it’s clear exactly what costs will be, how it affects the grant spending and whether they’ll fit in the budget.
Interest in experiencing these benefits in your post-award office? Learn more about Cayuse Fund Manager here.