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Background

Research Administration Workgroup

The following are extracts from the Research Administration workgroup’s Executive Summary describing the tasks they performed and their scoping and phasing recommendation.

The Research Administration workgroup was formed in 2005 to identify the core pre-award and post-award processes and to define requirements related to each of the Research Administration processes as they pertain to the new Financial Management System

The workgroup was co-chaired by Sue Ross, Director, Office for Sponsored Research (OSR), Evanston; Cindy O’Connor, Associate Controller; Jimmy Gurchek, Business Administrator, Microbiology-Immunology; and Tommy Harmon, Analyst Team Lead, Grants Management, FMSRI (Financial Management Systems Replacement Initiative, later re-named Project Cafe).  The workgroup included additional representatives from six academic and research departments, OSR, ASRSP (Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Programs), Northwestern University Information Technology (NUIT), the SNUPER team, and the FMSRI research project team.
As requested by the Financial Management System Advisory Committee (FMSAC), the workgroup focused on:

  • documenting the University’s processes and requirements for pre-award and post-award research administration
  • preparing a recommendation for selection of a pre-award system, and
  • conducting a fit-gap assessment for post-award functions in relation to the PeopleSoft Financials application. 

Separate requirements documents were produced for the pre-award and post-award functions.
The initial focus of the workgroup was to document functional requirements to be used in selecting COEUS, InfoEd, or PeopleSoft as the future pre-award administration system.  The requirements developed by the group included the abilities to:

  • build on funding opportunity search results
  • enable faculty members to prepare proposals and associated budgets using the software
  • print proposals
  • route proposals for approval
  • submit proposals to the sponsor (both via hardcopy and electronically)
  • negotiate and accept awards.

Scope & Phasing Recommendation

Pre-Award

Based on a well-defined evaluation process, the workgroup determined that InfoEd meets the greatest percentage of Northwestern’s pre-award system requirements.  In the fall of 2005 the workgroup recommended the purchase and implementation of at least the following modules of InfoEd’s software for the initial project phase in order to meet the critical functional requirements.

  • Sponsored Programs Information Network (SPIN), for funding opportunity searches and bio-sketch and publications maintenance, both of which are integrated with Proposal Development
  • Proposal Development, for proposal creation and proposal budget development
  • Proposal Tracking, for managing and tracking proposals from submission through award/contract acceptance

Post-Award

The workgroup also discussed post-award administration over the course of its meetings.  For these processes, the workgroup recommended implementing the following PeopleSoft modules for the initial project phase, in order to meet the critical functional requirements.

  • Grants Management, for post-award management of awards, projects, and project budgets, and F&A processing, as well as institution and sponsor profile maintenance and integration with the pre-award software
  • Project Costing, which serves as the central repository and processing module for all project-related budgets, transactions, and billing
  • Contract Administration, which controls revenue recognition and billing for projects
  • Billing, which performs the billing processes for projects, including letter-of-credit draws
  • Receivables, which tracks outstanding invoices and handles incoming payments

Each of these modules is required for performance of the full range of post-award activities.

Together with InfoEd, these systems will streamline the central office award data entry through an interface of awarded proposal records from within InfoEd to the PeopleSoft Financials, specifically those necessary for post-award processes.