NC State is close to selecting a vendor for a new electronic research administration (eRA) system that will help faculty and staff navigate the twists and turns of managing a research project. But first university officials want to take two of the competing systems for a test drive.
After a yearlong process involving the input of scores of researchers and research administrators, NC State hosted campus demonstrations by three finalists in August and September. The demonstrations helped university officials get a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each enterprise system.
But before making a final selection, officials are asking two of the vendors to come back to campus for proof-of-concept tests.
Marc Hoit, NC State chief information officer and vice chancellor for information technology, says the additional assessment will give affected staff an opportunity to see how the systems could be set up and configured in real time to meet the needs of researchers.
“We’re asking vendors to come on site and build functionality within the system while we look over their shoulder,” he says. “We’d like to see what it would take to modify the product to meet our specific needs.”
For example, NC State has numerous collaborative research projects that require the principal investigator to monitor and report on the work of researchers and subcontractors at other institutions. Staff at NC State would like to know how easy it would be to configure the new system to add that ability — called subrecipient monitoring functionality.
Once the proof-of-concept assessments are done and a vendor is selected, NC State still has plenty of work to do implementing the new system over the next several years. The university’s project team plans to set up a campus-wide faculty and staff advisory team that will continue to provide input and feedback throughout the implementation process.
The advisory team will join numerous other groups implementing the system and its individual parts, known as modules, including a steering team and teams devoted to areas such as communication, training and testing.
The new eRA system will support the entire lifecycle of a research project, from proposal development through final reporting and closeout. It will tie into the PeopleSoft financial and human resources systems and will affect nearly every unit on campus.
For regular updates about the eRA project, visit the eRA news blog (Unity ID required).