Research and Process Management at the College Level

  • August 18, 2020
The University of Minnesota’s largest college, the College of Liberal Arts was looking for a way to streamline managing funding opportunities and other processes, including collecting forms from graduate students. Using InfoReady™, administrators have gradually transitioned applications and workflows, focusing on the end-user experience and ability to extract data from the system. In a PEER SPOTLIGHT webinar, Jennifer Coffman (Executive Office and Research Development Specialist) and Christopher Stordalen (Assistant IT Director for Process Improvement) shared their best practices for process improvement that benefits faculty, staff, and students.
 
Spend Time with Your Processes

Once the standard onboarding items are complete, take time to review and understand your current processes so that you’re not replicating unnecessary steps in a new system.

Christopher notes: “Any software tool can be seen as fixing any situation, and that often is not the case. It certainly aids in the process, but talking through your process, what works and what doesn’t, that’s what takes a majority of the time with any sort of implementation like this.”

Your process + a new system = a new process

Centralize What You Can

They started funneling activity to InfoReady™ through their intent to submit form, which gathers basic information from faculty about opportunities they want to apply to and how they plan to use research development resources.

They then moved to other faculty and student initiatives like sabbatical approvals, fellowships, and retreat registration.

Jennifer explains the transition this way: “Before we were trying to manage spreadsheets and forms, really kind of pulling from one source to drop into another source...so we were really focused on moving competitions into one system, one platform, and InfoReady is fantastic at doing this.”


Standardize and Replicate

Though creating a template or competition can initially take some time, Christopher and Jennifer soon realized that it was worth the effort, both for keeping processes the same for multiple cycles of the same opportunity, as well as staff training and turnover.

As Christopher notes: “Standardizing on something like this, even for a small number of applicants or a small process has huge value when you’re trying to train somebody else into a new position, or someone leaves and you need someone else to cover. At least there’s a base process and structure, and people can find their way.”


Initiate a User Group

The CLA team has the added benefit of colleagues across campus that also use InfoReady™, including the College of Veterinary Medicine , Masonic Cancer Center , and Medical School .

 

With each group having various levels of experience with the system, Christopher wants to make sure they’re making the most of each others’ knowledge as they continue to refine processes: “How are we working together to learn the tool, to benefit from each other’s experience? And so, that’s what we’re trying to build now, a user community, and share the licensing burden together so that we can all benefit.

We want to thank Christopher and Jennifer for sharing their strategies for using InfoReady™ to streamline processes at the college level.

 

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