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Users React to Kuali Research Go-Live

On January 21, UC San Diego activated Kuali Research as the university’s new system for research administration. The go-live was the culmination of a multi-year process that included business process improvement, technical implementation, training and more.

Kuali Research is in place to manage the university’s $1B (and growing) annual research portfolio. “With Kuali Research, we’re able to process a large variety of research agreements in one system, and that provides alignment with the various business processes and business practices across campus,” says Nicole Joyce, Change Lead for the project. “In the end, that will provide better workflow, better transparency, and through that we’ll see efficiency gains.”

One such efficiency is the S2S (system-to-system) proposal development function, which allows proposals to be submitted directly to sponsors like the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), the departments of Defense and Energy, and NASA.

Users have been eager to use this functionality.

“The Office of Contracts and Grants Administration (OCGA) has been able to test the Kuali Research System-to-System functionality in the live environment with the real time, sometimes in-person support of the KR and ESR staff,” explains Mary Mansfield, Assistant Director OCGA. “We have been able to determine how to successfully submit directly via the system to various sponsors including NIH, DoD and NSF. We were able to work out any issues and successfully submit over 20 proposals system-to-system.  ESR’s support during the proposal submission was invaluable.”

Another value add is the detailed budget module. It eliminates the need to work in Excel or other offline applications, then re-enter data in the proposal.

“Kuali has been great in the way that it automatically knows the university’s correct benefit rates, pulls in payroll information and populates our detailed budgets directly into the agency’s format,” says Maddy Osborn, a Fund Manager in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “I think the long-term rollout will mean less errors due to manually entering things, uniformity in the way we budget and an overall consistency in proposal preparation across campus. It will make the process of preparing budgets with multiple principal investigators from different departments much easier.”

Like with any significant change, sometimes you just need to dive in and start trying things out. That’s the approach taken by Luz Molina, a Contracts and Grants Officer in OCGA, and her colleagues.

“The most surprising experience for me is seeing users fearlessly give the system a try without much cajoling,” Molina said. “Of course, there are those that did require persuasion. But those that just went for it didn’t seem to have much trouble and gained gratifying success.”

UC San Diego’s go-live was Kuali’s largest implementation so far given the number of modules activated and the $1B research portfolio. The cross-departmental cooperation, organizational change management, training and engagement paid off and translated into a successful, productive release.

“It’s been great to feel like our department has had a hands-on role in the process of launching a new system,” commented Osborn. “Change is scary, but it’s also exciting and so rewarding to put effort into learning something and seeing it work. I’ve truly enjoyed being part of the community of people committed to making Kuali a success.”

January’s release was only the first step, notes Joyce. She’s working on increasing campus adoption. Additionally, Joyce and the team have been noting feedback and prioritizing upcoming improvements and fixes.

Judy de los Dantos, Director of Sponsored Research Administration in the Department of Psychiatry, is eager for refinements to be implemented. “I am highly optimistic that Kuali Research can and will address efficient ways to submit quality and administratively proficient grant proposals,” she said. “We are a very competitive institution when seeking and getting research grants awarded. Seeking ways to match the renowned research scientists and research projects that have brought millions of dollars to the university with the administrative professionalism and sharp resources and tools to complement them, will only hone the exemplary research reputation we have built over the years and continue to build for years on end.”

Joyce seconds that, as she compliments the shared effort and looks ahead. “The team that made this happen has been absolutely incredible,” she said. “I’m really impressed with the way people came together. I think it shows in the results of what we’ve accomplished and will continue to accomplish.”

Some pictures over the years of brainstorming, process mapping and training sessions!

Category: News, Research Administration