The speed of research has accelerated in recent years, grounded in decades of scientific findings and advancements that serve as a springboard of sorts for new projects. The rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine, for example, could not have been possible without the dedicated work of researchers investigating severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the virus that causes the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Further, many of the technologies and processes used for vaccine design itself were rooted in previous research programs throughout the years.
The compounding results and effect on modern research programs from advancements produced throughout the global research community are only truly effective if they are well documented and accessible. Optimal efficiency throughout the research process also is critical to deliver scientific innovations, quickly, accurately, and reliably.
The importance of visibility, efficiency, and collaboration may seem obvious, but the how is where it all comes together. Technology is stepping up as a digital extension of the research team, offering a centralized hub for research activities with numerous benefits. Let’s take a look at four benefits for adopting new technology in your research organization.
Manual processes and even homegrown systems require a significant amount of time and effort to track, route, update, and maintain. From seeking out signatures and status updates to managing document storage and compliance activities, the traditional way of managing research programs is riddled with inefficiencies. These inefficiencies or administrative burdens result in increased operational costs and reduced workload capacity across the team. Additionally, inefficiencies open your team and research projects to potential risk of non-compliance.
By leveraging technology for many research administrative activities, research teams can experience a significant reduction in the time and effort needed to complete tasks. With automated workflows, notifications, and simplified views into research project status, requirements, and outcomes, teams can gain greater efficiency and higher levels of confidence in the integrity and compliance of their projects.
Nada Messaikeh, Associate Provost for Research Administration, at NYU Abu Dhabi recalled, “It all started on paper. Budget tracking was all done manually – paper forms, applications, PDFs, Excel files. It was a very disjointed process because a lot of things took place via email.” Now with Cayuse, their “internal proposals review time is cut in half. What used to take three months to review with hundreds of email communications now takes only six weeks,” shared Holly Mace, Pre-Award Grants Manager at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Increased Flexibility and Agility
Research programs are not cookie-cutter replicas of one another. Each project has a unique set of requirements, attributes, and approvers. So it stands to reason that a cookie-cutter approach wouldn’t work to effectively manage these projects. Manual processes may seem like a reasonable solution to maintain flexibility and agility, but they actually create unnecessary roadblocks and challenges that could actually hinder the integrity of the program. The good news is that research teams don’t need to feel bound by a rigid system to experience the benefits of new technology.
Today, research teams are empowered through technology to effectively adjust criteria based on the individual needs of each research project. For example, with a cloud-based solution like Cayuse, teams can adjust criteria based on the needs of an individual research project. For example, if research project A requires documents to be routed to Sue, Tom, and Dan, but research project B needs to be routed to Dave, Lucy, and Twilla, the research administrator can easily make those adjustments and assignments, ensuring a seamless flow of information, greater program agility, and heightened data integrity.
Improved Visibility and Transparency
Physical filing cabinets are notoriously difficult to maintain, with minimal security and obvious portability issues (particularly in their entirety). Digital filing cabinets in shared drives also have a reputation for getting a bit muddled and disorganized. It’s no wonder that many research organizations feel overwhelmed with data management or even in the dark about the current status of one or more research projects. For some teams, the search for the right information becomes just part of the routine. For the teams who have adopted a modern digital solution for managing research data, that overwhelmed or lost feeling has become a distant memory.
With the right digital solution in place, research teams can not only store and maintain accurate records of research projects, but also easily access that information and collaborate with other stakeholders. Think of the Cayuse Research Suite as Grand Central Station for your research activities. Everything is organized, configured to your needs, and easily accessible by relevant stakeholders, any time, any where. That level of accessibility and visibility puts the control back in your team’s hands so you can confidently and effectively manage your entire research portfolio (and know everything you need to know about each project in the process).
Errors happen. Missed signatures. Missing or incorrect information. It’s all part of the process, right? That may be true for manual or homegrown systems that don’t have integrated verification or validation tools or automated notifications available, but the right technology can significantly reduce or eliminate these errors, giving your team valuable peace of mind and confidence that nothing will slip through the cracks.
By leveraging advanced technology for your research administration activities, errors can be significantly reduced or even eliminated entirely.
For example, for the departmental administrators and Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) staff at the University of California, Irvine, the manual submission of proposals was a slow, cumbersome, and error-prone process. With the support of Cayuse, the team benefited from a reduction in duplicate data entry and proposal rejections due to errors. The ability of Cayuse Proposals S2S to auto-fill data when preparing proposals and the more than 1,500 real-time error validations have helped UCI ensure that proposals will be accepted by funding agencies on the first submission.
Looking Ahead … with Technology
In today’s digital age, advanced technology is no longer a nice-to-have addition to research programs, it’s a must-have solution, enabling teams to keep up with the speed of research and appeal to the growing needs and expectations of the people who use it most. Technology should be considered a long-term, strategic investment in the efficiency and success of research. When selecting a solution, keep in mind that you don’t have to jump into the deep end. Instead, consider selecting one or more solutions that meet your immediate areas of concern and then build from there, scaling as your organization grows or needs evolve.
Is now the right time to add technology to support your research management activities? Only you can decide. We are firm believers that knowledge is power. So, to make your decision easier, we’d love to help you get the information you need to make a sound assessment and informed decision. Simply contact us here, or request a demo.