Oakland University Manages a 300% Research Funding Increase with Cayuse

The Cayuse Platform increases transparency and accuracy across the research lifecycle


When Oakland University, a small public research university in Rochester, Michigan, earned R2 classification in 2018, it began investigating digital solutions to replace the existing mix of manual, paper, and homegrown systems used to manage research administration.

“We needed some tools that would grow with us and that would also standardize things across campus and really make things easier,” recalled Dr. Andrea Buford, Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs at OU. “We didn’t want the workload to feel like a burden on the administrative staff in the departments, and we didn’t want them to see research as a new burden for them.”

After investigating options, OU began the transition from its old systems to a new, digital system by implementing Cayuse Sponsored Projects, Proposals, and Human Ethics. However, with research funding increasing by 300% over the past 5 years, Dr. Buford and university administrators felt increasing pressure to update the university’s manual in-house systems for managing funds.

“There’s just no physical way to manage this much money on paper with an in-house system,” Dr. Buford said, citing staff burnout and inevitable audit findings. “Then COVID hit and everything had to go paperless yesterday.”

“We’ve had clean audits for 30 years and nobody wants that to change. When audit findings are inevitable, change happens.

Dr. Andrea Buford Director, Office of Sponsored Programs


Oakland University first implemented Cayuse Sponsored Projects, Proposals, and Human Ethics to build a foundation of centralized, electronic research administration infrastructure.

With Human Ethics in place, “the ability to see whether IRB protocols were in place was amazing, it was remarkable,” Dr. Buford noted, adding that “from within Sponsored Projects we could see if the protocols were in place and we could start to allow spending in the event of an award. We didn’t have to make 14 phone calls, send emails, or beg and plead to see a copy of the protocols.”

Motivated by the successful implementation of Cayuse’s Pre-Award solutions and the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, OU added Fund Manager to its Cayuse research suite in 2020. Whereas the university previously managed every proposal’s invoices, drawdowns, approvals, and modifications in a series of books housed on campus, the addition of Fund Manager allowed administrators and researchers to fully manage their proposals remotely.

Thanks to the platform’s transparency and accessibility by all researchers, Dr. Buford reported that “everybody’s happy. It’s much better, and it streamlines the time needed for approvals – you’re not literally moving paper around campus.”


“On the pre-award side, it’s reduced administrative burden all around; it’s streamlined things for us immeasurably. After adding Post-Award, the world just opened up.”

Dr. Andrea Buford Director, Office of Sponsored Programs


Overall, the implementation of Cayuse Pre-Award and Post-Award has helped Oakland University reduce administrative burden, increase transparency for researchers and administrators, streamline research procedures, and increase the visibility and recognition of research on campus.

Thanks to the platform’s accessibility and transparency, faculty involved in all facets of the research lifecycle can store data and records in a single electronic system and gain insight into the status of proposals and processes at any time.

According to Dr. Buford, “It’s increased and continues to increase transparency to the point where little things – PIs asking ‘where’s my proposal’ or ‘do I have money left in my account’ –  they can just get in Cayuse and look.” Additionally, “Reporting writ large for decision-makers at the president’s cabinet-level – ‘how many proposals did we submit,’ ‘how much money was that for,’ ‘what did we get,’ ‘what’s our hit rate’ – those are numbers I can get them in two seconds.”

With Cayuse Post-Award now in place, administrators are no longer worried about the dangers audits pose when managing the research program’s significant increase in funding. “We just finished our single audit, and it was astounding how much easier it was to collect anything they wanted,” Dr. Buford said. “It was so much easier with Fund Manager.”


“The transparency that having the Cayuse Platform allows increases the visibility of research. I know that it has contributed materially to the presence of research on campus, the importance of research to the campus, and the prestige of research on campus.”

Dr. Andrea Buford Director, Office of Sponsored Programs

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