Saving 25 hours a month on proposal preparation at University of Oklahoma

OU submitted their first proposal with Proposals a full month ahead of schedule

Challenge

For the Office of Research Services (ORS) at the University of Oklahoma (OU), customer service is a point of professional pride. The office is centralized and operates on a concierge model, coordinating the submission of all research proposals at OU. Twenty-eight staff members provide cradle-to-grave support for OU’s research community, helping investigators prepare and submit an average of 800 proposals a year. As you might imagine, with that volume and commitment to one-to-one support, the office puts a high premium on efficiency.

To reach a higher level of efficiency, ORS decided to make a change. A large percentage of OU’s funding comes from federal sources, and many are submitted via the Grants.gov federal portal. At that time, OU’s procedure for Grants.gov proposals consisted of manually filling out paperwork using Adobe Forms, making for a lengthy, redundant process. The ORS was in the market for a tool that would help them streamline the process while eliminating any guesswork.

University of Oklahoma

OU’s procedure for Grants.gov proposals consisted of manually filling out paperworka lengthy, redundant process.

Solution

 After exploring their options, OU settled on Proposals, the electronic proposal development and submission solution from Cayuse. In addition to options for streamlining and validation, a short and easy implementation process was also an important criterion for OU—and Proposals is designed for all three.

OU signed on for implementation in August, hoping they would be able to start submitting proposals by the first of November. Instead, in late September, a member of Cayuse’s Professional Services team arrived on campus to train the ORS staff for the week. By the following Monday—a full month ahead of schedule—OU submitted their first proposal with Proposals. “Implementing Proposals was a straightforward process, which we were able to finish well ahead of schedule,” said Dale Anderson, Data Manager in the Office of Sponsored Research Services. “In addition, the ability to catch errors before submission has proved to be very helpful in improving our efficiency.“

The system’s capabilities were also well-suited to OU’s other needs. With Proposals’ auto-fill feature, commonly used fields are automatically populated. That allows ORS staff to focus on the proposal-specific data. After it’s in the system, the proposal is circulated through the on-campus approval process and submitted directly to Grants.gov from Proposals.

“Implementing Proposals was a straightforward process, which we were able to finish well ahead of schedule.”

Dale Anderson
Data Manager, Office of Sponsored Research Services

Results

Eliminating redundant data entry immediately saved OU time and money. The ORS estimated that, in the first four months after implementation, their staff was able to shave off nearly 100 hours of proposal preparation time. “We pride ourselves on providing a high level of service to our faculty, and Proposals is designed to add an additional level of efficiency to our operation,” says Andrea Deaton, Associate Vice President for Research and Executive Director, Office of Research Services.

OU’s other goal was to automate their Grants.gov proposal review process. Before switching to Proposals, the ORS would often have to deal with proposals that were rejected due to technical errors with the submission. Sometimes they had enough time to correct the error and resubmit—other times, the window was too narrow. With Proposals’ form validation feature, every proposal goes through a pre-submission check, which alerts the user to specific items that might cause a rejection.

Since the switch to Proposals, ORS staff members have reported a much smoother submission process, attributed to the auto-fill and validation features which combat inefficiency and uncertainty. “Proposals allows us to provide even higher levels of service to our faculty,” says Dr. Kelvin K. Droegemeier, Vice President for Research, Regents Professor of Meteorology and Weathernews Chair Emeritus. Thanks to Proposals, ORS’s top-notch staff continue to serve OU’s research community efficiently and effectively.

“Proposals allows us to provide even higher levels of service to our faculty.”

Dr. Kelvin K. Droegemeier
Vice President for Research

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