Reducing research admin. Increasing contract compliance.
Research Contract Management for Stellenbosch University
As a research-intensive institution, Stellenbosch University (SU) is dependent on funding from all over the world. 73% of the university’s research contract income is from overseas, and such funding is subject to strict compliance and legislative requirements. However, the university was using a legacy research contract system that was conceived in 2006.
When a new set of higher education legislative requirements came into play, the university did not have the technological capabilities to adhere with the South African government’s compliance and reporting requirements in an automated manner, hence various manually intensive processes needed to be performed to ensure compliance.
“I had to keep spreadsheets to capture data that couldn’t be housed by our legacy system,” explains Cornelia Malherbe, Director: Research Contracts, Stellenbosch University. “This caused issues in terms of data integrity. Plus, reporting turned into a highly complex and time-consuming process.”
SIS Global developed and implemented a new centralised Research Contract Management system for the university, with the assent and co-operation of the University’s IT Division and based on the functional requirements drafted by the University. Built within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the university’s research contract team and faculty management can collaborate easily and effectively, connecting through a common Microsoft cloud platform. Over time, this flexible, scalable and secure platform can be extended to build new solutions and integrate with other Microsoft technologies as and when the university requires.
The system includes all the new fields required by the university to adhere to new compliance requirements and report effectively on all new and future legislation from the government.
With a wealth of experience in the education and technology sectors, SIS Global could hit the ground running and manage the project within tight deadlines.
“I was delighted with how prepared Teresa was. How she understood our functional requirements right from the beginning, and the insight she brought throughout the project.” says Cornelia. “As well as being completely professional under pressure, she was a pleasure to work with. We’re a large team to manage so her excellent interpersonal skills really made a difference. If we had any issues whatsoever, we knew she was just a phone call away.”
Today, the Research Contract department’s data is cleaner and higher quality, which facilitates better reporting all-round with reports presented in easily digestible formats. Now when Cornelia and her team need to create reports, everything is housed centrally on the system. They don’t need to collate data from multiple separate sources.
Many tasks that had to be completed manually are now automated on the system, and the functional requirements can easily be upgraded on an as-needed basis. So, when new government legislation comes in, the system can be quickly and easily updated to accommodate the new requirements.
Business efficiency is dramatically improved by streamlining cumbersome administrative processes. For instance, the Department of Science and Technology completes a compulsory annual statutory survey in which all income is classified. This task, which is now completed in a matter of minutes on the system, took accountants weeks to complete and involved classifying thousands of transactions manually. SU is following a similar approach now in the financial solution to classify expenditures as well to make this immense task easier.
Furthermore, this is a fully future-proof system. Many of the benefits will only become apparent in 2 to 3 years when contracts are coming to an end and certain tasks are automatically flagged.
“Thanks to SIS Global and an excellent team within SU, my dreams of a fully-functioning Research Contract Management system have become reality,” adds Cornelia.
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