Modernizing Idaho State University’s Research Administration with Cayuse

Cayuse solutions help faculty members complete IRB & IACUC reviews up to 200% faster

Challenge

Idaho State University is a public research university with an R2 classification. Previously, the university relied upon manual, paper-based systems and the limited use of generic database software to manage research submission, review, and approval processes. In 2014, university leadership set out to modernize the school’s research administration system to help improve efficiency and reduce the risks and delays associated with paper-based processes. 

“This was our first endeavor to the concept of electronic routing and having everything electronically in its own off-campus, virtual cloud,” recalled Dave Harris, ISU’s Assistant Vice President for Research Administration. “We had even looked at developing our own or getting the code from others who had developed something similar in the past.”

Administrators vetted several different vendors and solutions before landing on Cayuse as the optimal solution for the university’s transition to a digital research management system.

“We had stacks of paper – 12 copies of each protocol – that had to go out to all the committee members. You have to collect those at the end and shred them, so the turnaround time to get a review done was quite lengthy.

Tom Bailey IRB & IACUC Coordinator

Solution

ISU adopted Cayuse Proposals (S2S), Sponsored Projects, Animal Oversight, and Human Ethics to replace the existing paper-based and manual research administration processes. Thanks to Cayuse’s quick and well-supported implementation process, administrators and faculty alike soon saw the tangible benefits of their new digital solutions.

“From Sponsored Projects to the compliance side, it’s been amazing,” Tom Bailey, ISU’s IRB & IACUC Coordinator said of the change, adding, “it’s been night and day from the paper system.”

Even with the new solutions in place, however, the university stuck to using paper backups for submissions and reviews for several years. This changed in the Spring of 2020 when ISU’s campus closed in response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dave Harris recalled that when the pandemic disrupted ISU’s research management and administration, Cayuse “allowed us to grow a little bit more as a university and it allowed us to become more confident in the system.” With this newfound confidence, ISU went completely paperless starting July 1st, 2021.

“We went from signing a contract to start on the first of January in 2014 to live 8 months later.”

Dave Harris Assistant Vice President for Research Administration

Results

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, administrators and researchers at ISU saw several benefits to implementing Cayuse’s research administration solutions.

While IRB and IACUC reviews were previously “quite lengthy” due to the time required to print, send, return, record, and dispose of paper documents, Tom Bailey noted that with Cayuse Human Ethics and Animal Oversight implemented, “we’ve pretty much cut that in half, or even into a quarter of the time.”

“The amount of time it saves us and to be able to look at everything in one spot is crucial,” Dave Harris added. With all project details and statuses easily accessible through the Cayuse Platform, administrators can pull together any information they need at a moment’s notice, significantly increasing the turnaround time for any request.

Faculty also saw a reduction in printing and publishing expenses thanks to the switch to a digital administration system. “It’s had a ripple effect too,” Dave noted, “our printers are lasting longer, we don’t have to buy materials and supplies nearly as much, and it’s helped the workload, everyone manages it.”

In addition to Cayuse’s time and resource-saving benefits, administrators also noticed an unanticipated increase in inter-office collaboration in the years following their transition. “When you’re using a hard copy it’s really easy to become siloed in your own area,” Dave recalled, contrasting this with the ability to coordinate and communicate while accessing to the same information simultaneously via the Cayuse Platform.

Finally, having Cayuse in place at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic helped ISU continue to effectively manage its research in ways that would not have been possible with their former manual systems. Cayuse, Dave stated, was “one of the main reasons that we were able to stay remote as long as we were and to keep our people safe. It allowed us to be essential but remote.”

“It’s impacted us collaterally like you could never imagine. It’s one of those deals where you don’t find anything negative about it.”

Dave Harris Assistant Vice President for Research Administration

“I don’t see any reason why not to implement it. It’s a time saver, and there’s really no downsides.”

Tom Bailey IRB & IACUC Coordinator

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