Integrating Lawson and Cayuse to save time and improve accuracy at Whitehead Institute

Data entry errors have decreased dramatically


Whitehead Institute (Whitehead) is a non-profit independent research institute affiliated with, but fiscally independent from, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The relationship between the two is very close, with Whitehead’s faculty members all holding positions within MIT’s prestigious biology department.

Whitehead had been using Coeus, a grants management solution developed by MIT. However, Coeus did not meet the specific needs of Whitehead’s based on their unique organizational structure. Additionally, institutional knowledge was lost due to turnover, so Whitehead had to rely on consultants for upgrades and training. To better meet its needs, Whitehead began to explore other options to manage its proposals and awards—ideally, one that would integrate with its existing ERP system.

“We use Cayuse system-to-system, so now all of our grants go into Cayuse.”

Sheri Farnum
Associate Director
Office of Sponsored Programs


As Whitehead evaluated research administration solutions, some were cost-prohibitive and did not meet the specific needs of their organization. Whitehead found a perfect fit with the Cayuse platform, as it is designed to scale to any institution size, with corresponding licensing fees. Together, Whitehead’s outstanding IT team and Cayuse’s implementation specialists installed Proposals and Sponsored Projects. Sheri Farnum, Associate Director of Whitehead’s Office of Sponsored Programs, explains, “We use Cayuse system-to-system, so now all of our grants go into Cayuse.”

Cayuse and Whitehead also integrated the Cayuse solutions with Lawson, an ERP system the institution uses to manage payroll and grant award spending activities. Farnum says, “When we set up a new award or the next year of an existing award, we put the information into Cayuse, and then that information integrates directly into Lawson.”


Whitehead’s grant preparation process improved significantly after Cayuse was implemented and integrated with Lawson. At Whitehead, the research labs each have Administrative Lab Managers (ALMs) who work with the PIs to prepare and submit proposals. The ALMs find the Cayuse system intuitive and easy to use, no matter the level of expertise. “Since we’ve started using Cayuse, we’ve been very satisfied with it,” says Farnum.

An important benefit of the software is reducing errors during grant preparation. Proposals analyzes each proposal as it is prepared and uses real-time, opportunity-specific checks for any errors that would prevent the proposal from being submitted successfully. This allows ALMs to catch mistakes and warnings before they submit their proposals, saving them the hassle of resubmission. Additionally, because Whitehead used to rely heavily on a paper system, staff would occasionally make errors during data entry. Now that ALMs can input information themselves, and the proposal is routed through the approval process electronically, data entry errors have decreased dramatically.

Collaboration and efficiency have also improved. “Before Cayuse, someone would input all grant application data page by page. Now we don’t have to do that,” Farnum says. “There’s less data entry compared to doing it from scratch.” Farnum says ALMs and other staff enjoy all being able to review different parts of a grant application simultaneously, rather than printing out hard copies—a major benefit during tight deadlines.

Switching from a research system that didn’t meet the requirements of Whitehead to the Cayuse Research Suite proved to be very positive for the Institute. Proposals and Sponsored Projects have simplified processes and saved Whitehead significant time and money, ultimately allowing the Institute to better serve its community.

“Before Cayuse, someone would input all grant application data page by page. Now we don’t have to do that.”

Sheri Farnum
Associate Director
Office of Sponsored Programs

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