U Michigan Pilots eSystem from Click Commerce for External Grants Funding Proposals

The University of Michigan has begun a pilot program to implement Click Commerce's eResearch Portal for Grants to automate its external grants funding proposal processes. The go-live for the system is expected to be in March 2009.

As one of the top five research institutions in North America, with more than 5,700 grant applications annually, the university is leveraging eResearch Portal's ability to enable centralized routing, review, approval, and submission of Grants.gov SF424 forms as well as applications to foundations, industry, and other external funders. In fiscal year 2008, nearly 70 percent of the $875.8 million research expenditures came from federal funds.

The browser-based set of applications allows Michigan to configure a grants application routing and submission system based on the university's own forms and funding processes, including its Proposal Approval Form (PAF). During the pilot about 25 projects will be entered in the system. These involve researchers and administrators in many of the university's schools and colleges as well as the 40-member staff of Michigan's Division of Research Development and Administration.

"Click's Grants system allows us to better manage the process of competing for funding," said Marvin Parnes, associate VP for research and executive director of research administration. "The university spends almost $3 million a day on research. From a business perspective, we needed an e-research proposal management system that would not increase the administrative burden on our researchers. This system works with our required forms and workflow processes while speeding eSubmissions through Grants.gov and other funding sites."

"We've also done extensive end-user testing to ensure a 'walk-up' user interface," said Laura Patterson, associate VP of administrative information services. "The result, configured by our team using Click's tools, is both efficient and user-friendly. Our goal is to avoid the need for any one-on-one end-user training when the system rolls out to our 8,000 potential users."

According to Patterson, the system also met other key requirements such as supporting both Mac and Windows operating systems and not requiring any desktop modifications.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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