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Monash University to improve research grant management with software tool

Monash University to improve research grant management with software tool

Implementation will take 15 months, says CIO Ian Tebbett

Doctor Ian Tebbett.

Doctor Ian Tebbett.

Melbourne-based Monash University will shortly commence a 15-month implementation of software designed to improve management of its research grants.

The university has selected UNIT4’s Agresso research management, project costing and award management software to help automate some admin functions and give university staff a better idea of which research grants to bid for.

Monash University's CIO, Doctor Ian Tebbett, told CIO Australia that it is about 15 months away from the software’s go live date of mid-2015.

“That may seem a long time away but there is a research [grant] process selection happening at the same time. We need to time the implementation to work around data integrity,” he said.

According to Tebbett, it is faced with a challenge when managing the multitude of grant applications every year.

For example, pressure on its current systems has “become worse” as competition for research grants increases.

“The institutional reporting, government reporting requirements seem to increase year by year. We reached the stage in late 2012 where we realised we were faced with major upgrades to the current systems to keep them viable.

“That led us to think about how research administration is likely to look in the years ahead and what sort of tools we need for providing support to the researchers and university points of view,” he said.

The Agresso implementation will help manage all of the university’s research opportunities and bids through to completion.

According to Tebbett, Monsah University’s research income is more than $300 million per year with thousands of grant applications processed.

In addition, he said it will be able to automate a lot of the financial grant submission functions.

"There is a lot of manual processing today and a lot of triple checking that goes on because of the inability of current systems to provide the whole picture. We will be able to reduce some of the admin burdens on the researchers and admin teams that support them.

“We hope that capacity will enable us to make faster decisions about which grants we pursue and which ones we don’t,” he said.

For example, Tebbett said that only between 20 and 50 per cent of grant bids are won by the university.

“That means a lot of effort is going into bids that go nowhere. It’s in everyone’s best interests that we be smarter about prejudging some of those bid outcomes.”

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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