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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
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Reimagine research? How exactly and what is in scope of such a ‘reimagination’ of the core processes of research-intensive universities and institutions? The quick answer to this is SAP’s Industry Cloud, an approach that vertically integrates solutions into SAP’s product portfolio that fit the specific needs for Higher Education & Research institutions. So why would you need SAP’s Industry Cloud to accelerate the digital transformation of your Research Project and Grants Management?
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Let us first dive into the ‘what’ and ‘why.’ As shared in my recent blog on RISE with SAP for Higher Education there is huge pressure on institutions of Higher Education & Research to keep up with the pace of innovation and compliance. The demand from their ‘customers’ is enormous from students, alumni, sponsors, and researchers: Especially the demands to support sponsor requirements. Compliance and providing transparency and detailed insights into real-time expenditures of a grant are not to be underestimated.

Successful research projects are among the strategic goals of such research-intensive institutions: the result being high-quality publications and related citations that will eventually help institutions grow in critical international rankings, for example, the QS Global Ranking & Times Higher Education.

SAP understands that these institutions are increasingly focused on providing adequate capacity in research administration and management to facilitate successful research outcomes. A variety of funding sources such as ministries of education, international governmental funding bodies, large corporations, or charity foundations, may be involved to financially sponsor their strategic research.

To support these ‘core-business’ processes, many institutions have set up, or are planning to set up central or de-central service teams. Teams who are specifically involved in supporting the administration and monitoring of research grants and projects. In most cases, these teams are labeled as offices for sponsored programs or simply as central research administration.

One of the core tasks of these teams, offices, and the key elements of managing grants, is tracking the proposal success rate. This KPI eventually gives a good understanding of the financial/grant health of the institution and/or a specific department.  Being able to analyze the success rate will provide insights to improve the submissions and hence the eventual proposal acceptance rate.

To meet all the sponsor requirements, to ensure compliance, and eventually to ‘win’ a grant, principal investigators and co-investigators are increasingly being put under pressure to write a successful proposal and secure the grant/sponsorship.

To enable researchers to navigate the (administrative) world of research grant management more successfully, it is key to collaborate with central offices of sponsored programs maintaining communication channels and a two-way flow of information. This is required from the initial ideation stage throughout proposal development and potential awarding of the grant, through the final delivery and a successful outcome of a research project.

With a combined effort of research administrators and the principal investigator, this burdensome process can run much more smoothly, especially in the case of more straightforward research grants. With more complex grant applications, administrative challenges increase, especially with co-funding cases and where large consortia with multiple research partners are involved.  It is critical to have proper planning and budgeting in place involving all stakeholders for these types of applications as well. Especially as estimating the true costs of complex research projects is a challenging task that demands accuracy.

Budget as cornerstone of a successful project

Managing your planned research budget that includes detailed expected resources and personnel costs is indeed a complex and challenging task, even before the reconciliation with actual expenditures. To make sure that all critical info for the eventual research budget and associated grant proposal is properly recorded, the principal investigator, research administration, and finance departments must collect, register, and consolidate all budget data into a single-source-of-truth to ensure clarity and to ensure a smooth continuous flow of the grant proposal.

To ensure that the financial foundation of a research project is rock-solid, SAP’s Industry Cloud allows you to enrich your Pre- and Post- Award processes with the Research Budget Management app from our partner Flexso.

Specifically built for Higher Education and Research institutions, the application enriches the digital core from SAP and makes it ‘fit-for the industry’.

Flexso’s Research Budget Management App provides key stakeholders a tool for simplified financial data input and enables tailor-made output without the repeated hassle of building specific custom reports.
” Our app enables you to produce budget reports in different versions, based on the same set of data. Whether you need a snapshot at a certain moment of the research project, or the latest figures to produce a report for your research project stakeholder ”

Ann Koolen, Research Management Consultant.

The Research Budget Management app will provide a clear picture of the budget, with the opportunity to keep it current, with ensured integrity as a single-source-of-truth since all key stakeholders are using the same tool for data entry and budget monitoring.

Get a sneak preview of the Research Budget Management app in the following short demo:

Software-as-a-Service as Foundation

To ensure a smooth and easy integration in your current landscape, the Research Budget Management app has a SaaS cloud foundation, built and running on SAP’s Business Technology Cloud Platform.

Based on API’s the app can connect and retrieve data from SAP’s Cloud ERP environment which can act as your core foundation for further processing of your research project (e.g., project flow, grant lifecycle, indirect cost calculations, billing, sponsor reporting, etc). The integration with a cloud ERP is (eventually) essential to have a consistent flow of financial data, and for providing real-time insights on expenditures directly affecting the budget associated with the grant.

Solely looking at the concept of budget management, SAP recognizes the importance of both a pre-and post-award management perspective. Taking the holistic view, a true end-to-end flow encompasses many more processes that need to be integrated and linked to get a full 360-degree view from application to publication.

The Research Budget Management app is only one of the many apps developed by Flexso to accommodate true end-to-end pre-and post-award management. The collection of Flexso apps will be made available on the SAP Store with the Research Budget Management app as the initial launch. The ‘Research Project Milestone Tracker’ will soon be launched as the second Industry Cloud app, with the end goal of having all the core apps made available on the SAP Store, offering institutions a true end-to-end solution for managing research projects.
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SAP’s Industry Cloud for Higher Education & Research

Want to learn more about SAP’s Industry Cloud for Higher Education & Research and what offerings are out there? A first suggestion would be to start exploring the SAP Store. Here you will discover and learn that there are many more Industry Cloud applications that can deliver great added value on top of your existing SAP landscape.

Think, for instance, about solutions that extend your HR processes, Tenure Management capabilities by Sodales, or improve your campus recruiting processes with CASE, which will enrich your recruiting capacities with Machine Learning technologies. Also think about apps enabling your institution with proctoring tooling, especially of high relevance with the ongoing remote learning and examination situations.

Discover more SAP Higher Education & Research industry Cloud apps via the URL below graphic:
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Please check out the below links that will guide you to more detailed information around the SAP Industry Cloud offering:

Any questions? As always feel free to mail, call, DM me.

Rob Jonkers - Global Senior Director SAP Higher Education & Research

Join our LinkedIn SAP Higher Ed & Research group!


#### Initially published on LinkedIn 18th October 2021 ####