Automating Approvals at Syracuse University

  • April 25, 2022

Over the last two years, colleges and universities have needed to quickly adapt to all COVID-related challenges. Who can access campus buildings? How can we ensure research activities can continue? Who is allowed to travel and for what purposes? For InfoReady clients, administrators were already familiar with standard application and review workflow processes and could quickly adapt to managing other administrative approvals. In a recent webinar, Dr. Christina Leigh Docteur (Director of Proposal Support Services) and Dr. Chena Chianese (Associate Director of Proposal Support Services) from Syracuse University shared how they manage their essential research travel and visiting scholar requests, which are new processes added during the pandemic. The Office of Research took over these processes on the request from Human Resources. The insights from Syracuse are useful for any organizations wanting to set up streamlined approval processes in InfoReady.

 Overall Tips and Tricks
  • Use the General template, which has fewer default fields and more flexibility.
  • Guide applicants on what to use for “title”, e.g., travel location.
  • Use Applicant-Driven steps to automate the routing and collect approvals.
  • If new units are involved, proactively send out “how to” for new reviewers to familiarize them with the approval process.
  • Customize the columns on the Data Grid to display the fields most important to managing your process.

Why InfoReady?

  •  Structured Form – Standardized format of requirements so all pertinent info is gathered upfront.
  • Automated Messages - Email notifications to administrators when routing approvals happen.
  • Customizable Dashboard (Data Grid) - Dr. Docteur notes: “We really enjoy being able to customize our dashboard so we can see the pertinent stuff right on the screen, right when we open up a competition.”
  • Transparent and Accessible - Centralized source to keep all records related to the approval requests.

Addressing Common Challenges

Challenge: Additional application information is needed after the initial approval.

Solution: Use Progress Reports to collect ID numbers and proof of vaccination status for visiting scholars

Challenge: Needing additional approval step after the main process.
Solution: Added an admin-only question on the application form and administrators edit applications to input that information later.

Challenge: Submissions can't be returned when multi-stage review.
Solution: Use the Notes feature to document temporary administrative hold and applicant emails once submission can be processed again.

Challenge: Some info can be provided early, and some can’t (for different populations).
Solution: Include option to upload materials early if available (e.g., for domestic visitors), which then shortens the approval time from weeks to days.

We want to thank our presenters for their time and expertise, and we are proud to partner with them to get the most out of the platform. As Dr. Docteur shares: “I think the robustness of the system, especially for these types of applications is an absolute testament to InfoReady as an organization working with their academic clients and finding the best solution.”

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