Illinois State University saves $250k+ annually with Cayuse

Eliminating thousands of administrative hours while growing

Challenge

Illinois State is an emerging research institution, with consistent growth in their sponsored projects portfolio of 5-7% year over year. Their researchers submit about 300 proposals annually, with a focus on public service, emerging biomedical research, and traditional STEM fields.

When Jason Wagoner started his new role as Director of Research and Sponsored Programs in 2014, the research growth was an exciting opportunity. Illinois State had been using Cayuse Proposals to manage about $40 million in research funding annually, including $11 million in sponsored research.

“Prior to adopting Cayuse, researchers’ submissions sometimes lacked information or details that would have made them more competitive for the grants they were going after.” Jason says. “With Cayuse, we were able to ensure we were asking the right questions to get people to think about the competitiveness of their applications.”

And there was a chance to do even more with Cayuse’s full suite of integrated apps, such as improving on spreadsheet-based IACUC processes and IRB software that wasn’t meeting their needs. They needed a scalable, connected research suite that was easy to use and would facilitate collaboration and visibility for reporting.

“Having a single vendor works better for us. Cayuse’s integrated research suite allows for the research enterprise to be more cohesive…and we can see the big picture.”

Jason Wagoner
Director of Research and Sponsored Programs

Solution

Illinois State adopted Cayuse’s Sponsored Projects app on Jason’s first day, kickstarting a period of growth. “When we moved to Sponsored Projects, we looked at all of our internal business practices to see how we could improve them,” he says. One step was to take advantage of Sponsored Projects’ internal routing feature, which alerts approvers in various departments about which proposals they need to sign off on.

After seeing the positive impact Proposals and Sponsored Projects had, Illinois State University adopted Cayuse’s Human Ethics and Animal Oversight apps, and recently added the Outside Interests, Fund Manager, Project Effort, and Fund Finder apps. Jason and the team at ISU valued a comprehensive, integrated system, rather than a combination of spreadsheets and disconnected one-off solutions that don’t share data. “Having a single vendor works better for us,” Jason says. “Cayuse’s integrated research suite allows for the research enterprise to be more cohesive. We experienced a lot of silos, where individual offices didn’t interact. Now those barriers are being broken down and we can see the big picture.”

Another factor in his decision was Cayuse’s transparent product roadmap based on customers’ input and feedback. “The roadmap is incredibly helpful for decision-making,” Jason says. “It’s clear that Cayuse is adhering to the timelines they’ve set as a company. That gave us a lot of confidence.”

“With Cayuse, we eliminated thousands of administrative hours annually while growing, since we don’t have as much administrative burden.”

Jason Wagoner
Director of Research and Sponsored Programs

Results

“With Cayuse, we eliminated thousands of administrative hours annually while growing, since we don’t have as much administrative burden,” Jason says. “Now more resources can go to the investigators.” In addition to saving substantial time, they’re enjoying several other benefits from Cayuse’s integrated research suite including:

Supporting growth

Illinois State has seen renewed growth in sponsored programs. “There’s a correlation between adopting Cayuse and our research growth,” Jason says. “We went from using paper 10 years ago to using sophisticated electronic systems like Cayuse Proposals that are double-checking everything. Cayuse makes it easier to apply for grants and document decisions.”

Submitting more competitive proposals

Staff love how Sponsored Projects helps them collaborate and think about how their research ideas are presented, Jason says. “Our biggest benefit from Cayuse is realizing different areas of the institution could combine their efforts and then seek larger proposals,” he says. Better, well-thought-out proposals mean more funding, so it’s a win-win!

Training new staff

Integrated products have made it easier to train new staff. “That’s where Cayuse’s tools give us an advantage, because it gets people thinking about the questions they have as they’re submitting proposals,” Jason says. And the feedback he’s received has been very positive.

“New researchers love Cayuse and say it’s easy to use, and existing faculty like the Human Ethics app more than the previous software, IRBNet, we had,” he says. “If research administration tools aren’t intuitive, faculty won’t use them. And that’s what we enjoy about Cayuse: it’s so intuitive, it’s not a barrier to seeking external funding.” Staff say it’s easier to use Animal Oversight than previous methods, and coordinating the IACUC committee is easier too.

Avoiding underspending

“We don’t have any overspending issues, but researchers do sometimes underspend,” Jason says, which results in having to return research funding. With Fund Manager the research team will have greater visibility to spend and project balances, leveraging the apps seamless backend connections to internal systems like their ERP. In addition, Fund Manager’s what-if-scenarios will help them plan research spending more accurately. “We showed the projection tool in Fund Manager to our researchers, and they were very excited,” he says.

Staying compliant

Jason and his teams are enjoying greater transparency and compliance. “Cayuse’s tools have been very helpful to stay on top of regulatory changes, because they’re built to be compliant,” he says. “These tools make it easy for us to be as transparent as possible with external entities, because they document protocol procedures better. Cayuse makes us easy to audit.”

Illinois State is fully leveraging Cayuse’s integrated solutions and reaping the benefits: streamlined processes, cost savings, better onboarding, and connected departments. Now they’re well-equipped for continued research growth and success.

“The roadmap is incredibly helpful for decision- making. It’s clear that Cayuse is adhering to the timelines they’ve set as a company. That gave us a lot of confidence.”

Jason Wagoner
Director of Research and Sponsored Programs

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