As we work with institutions around the world to implement our software solutions, we are always keen to learn about key success factors at every stage of the process.
One of the leading success factors we’ve come across is early collaboration between research and IT leaders. We asked customers at Texas Tech University and the College of Health Sciences at Boise State University to tell us more.
Texas Tech University: Establishing collaborative systems of record and data management practices through collaboration with IT
“One of the things that, unfortunately, higher education seems to do well, particularly when it comes to tech, is siloes,” said Dr Kathy Austin, Associate Vice President, Information Technology at Texas Tech University. “When we have siloes in research and IT, we get lots of dysfunctions, data duplication, incorrect data, data integrity problems, and sub-optimization of systems of record.”
Like many of our institutions, it was Texas Tech’s office of research that brought these issues to light. Further investigation found that a lack of collaboration appeared to be at the root of the problem. The key for Texas Tech was taking this into account even before the team started looking for a comprehensive solution.
“The academic and research enterprise leadership must meet at the same table as IT leadership,” said Dr Austin. “This is a critical aspect of creating respect-based, win-win relationships in your organization.”
As Texas Tech began to work with Cayuse, they found that establishing this respect-based relationship included another key factor – every department working within their own expertise and deferring to another where needed. After implementation, this new way of collaborative work has enabled all departments to maximize and maintain their systems.
“A good example of that would be the way we’ve been working with Cayuse to enhance accessibility,” said Dr. Austin. “Cayuse was already working on this, but we and a few other institutions were providing some advice and guidance. During that process, there were two discussions. One was technical, with the pages, application, and worldwide consortium standards. The other conversation was questioning whether this is acceptable to the faculty and students that require technology accommodations. I’ve been evaluating web pages for a long time and I could easily have said, this is great. Instead, I contacted our VP for Research and got their team involved. That created mutual trust and respect between IT and research and also accentuated our strategic partnership with Cayuse; Cayuse has been a strategic partner, not just a vendor of a product that we purchased.”
Boise State University: Leadership’s need for increased transparency and data driven decisions resulted in a partnership with IT
“Our interest in finding a solution did revolve around a reporting functionality that didn’t exist at Boise State,” said Ella Christiansen, Director of the Office of Research at the College of Health Sciences, Boise State University. “Our leadership did not have real-time, quick, and easy access to information regarding sponsored projects, and the time it took to get access to that data was very limited and frustrating. We also had complaints and challenges from our faculty who wanted easy access to their budgets and expenditures. We needed more transparency for our folks and our college, without having to jump through so many hoops to get that information.”
Transparency was a key motivation for the Boise State College of Health Sciences leadership, as they looked for a solution that empowered them to make data driven decisions. They began to consult and collaborate with their IT department early on, working together to define their brief in terms of software needs and long term support model, and finally selecting Cayuse. This created a solid partnership with IT, and the team credits early engagement from different parts of the university for the smooth and successful implementation of the Cayuse solutions.
“The biggest challenge was reporting and accessing information, and we have already seen a lot of success with that,” says Ella. ”The research team has really jumped on board with it. We’ve also increased our transparency into our portfolio, expenditures, and funding sources.”
“Our partnership with IT and our work with Cayuse have been great from day one,” adds Ella. “The Cayuse team has been incredibly engaged and willing to provide information to all interested parties at my organization. Both IT and Cayuse were involved in this really consultative role as we were going through the process of figuring out which solutions we needed. During implementation, both teams were with us every step of the way.”
The partnership and collaboration model established with IT as well as the successful implementation and satisfaction with Cayuse set a foundation for additional modernization. Ella and her team in the College of Health Sciences are now having discussions about the potential of implementing Cayuse enterprise-wide.
The view from Cayuse: Engaging the IT team early on makes the process painless
In her experience as Vice President of Sales at Cayuse, Carolyn Hollowell confirms that the smoothest evaluation processes have modeled what Dr. Austin and Ella both mentioned earlier. Engaging the IT team early on in the evaluation process, including joining product demonstrations, is one of the best practices for institutions to foster collaboration. Oftentimes institutions don’t think of including the IT team at this point in the conversation. Getting involved early on allows IT to learn the product capabilities and visualize the workflow improvements over current processes, especially when switching from a homegrown system.
“Involving IT becomes really important, I notice, as you are thinking of transitioning off a home grown system,” said Carolyn. “A lot of times, those IT team members are the ones who built that process or are maintaining it, so they can find things that the research administration team may not even think about. It’s so helpful for both teams to agree that this is a good solution for the institution.”
If, in some cases, the IT team doesn’t feel the need to join this early on, having a separate integration, implementation, and ongoing support meeting is extremely helpful. It will allow the administration and IT to have a dialogue about their respective roles and time requirements so they can confidently support each other during selection and implementation.
“The primary benefits I have seen from early collaboration is time and effort savings seen on selecting, procuring, and implementing a comprehensive solution,” said Carolyn. “A solution that solves many pain points along the research lifecycle can become a labor of love and take a lot of time, but when stakeholders collaborate, it can become painless.”