Universities are always looking for ways to increase their productivity while saving both human and financial resources. In the case of the University of Central Florida, team members in the Office of Research Development noticed the trend toward burnout for staff and administrators in charge of managing limited submissions and internal funding. Because these processes were time-sensitive and mostly via email, they felt they needed to respond to inquiries during their non-working hours. This was both unhealthy and inefficient, so they started to look for a solution to address these issues. Beginning in 2018, UCF adopted InfoReady, which has proved an invaluable tool as they scale their research development programs.
In a recent webinar, Joshua Roney, PhD, Associate Director of Research Development, shared how InfoReady helped relieve staff fatigue and increase the institution’s research activity. Below are highlights of the benefits they’ve seen for their core programs, as well as how they’ve grown through strategic partnerships at the university.
- UCF uses the InfoReady-Pivot integration to quickly create and announce opportunities.
- Quality control on the application side: System enforces due dates and requires certain questions and file uploads in order to submit
- Keeps everything locally: Multiple RD staff members can access to cover for each other during illness or vacation
- Standardized review process: Template functionality keeps consistency for similar programs
- Ad hoc adjustments: “We were able to do more tracking ‘on the fly’ during competitions and even prior to submission deadlines to see activity…and adjust accordingly.”
- More analysis and reporting to document trends to stakeholders
- Quick turnaround: System helps minimize time between submission and awarding so that work by the PIs can start ASAP.
- Consistent growth: Since 2019, UCF has added about a dozen programs into InfoReady.
- Example programs so far: Seed funding, mentoring programs, postdoc funding, and more!
- Impact: Research skills of early career PIs, increase in external dollars pursued/awarded, re-engagement of mid-career PIs, collaboration/team development
- Always ask: What would help support goals of the institution’s strategic plan?
- As RD programs succeeded, their office was connected to other parts of the university.
- VPR Seed Funding with multiple tracks and a multistage review process: “This was an incredibly complicated effort that we really would not have been able to do successfully without the support of the system because of so many moving parts.”
- President’s Strategic Investment Program: Partnership with President and Provost with a short time between the idea and needing to manage the process
We want to thank Dr. Roney for sharing his outcomes and best practices, which show that overall, InfoReady has helped the RD team at UCF achieve their goals. Submission and review processes are simpler, quality control is higher, and staff burnout is lower. As Dr. Roney notes: “In most cases, it has been very flexible and hasn’t interfered with the way we want to run our processes.” They have been able to configure competitions to support various programs across the university, expanding their office and institutional impact simultaneously.