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Duke faculty manage research budgets via SAP

by Davin Wilfrid

June 3, 2010

by Davin Wilfrid, ERP Expert

The faculty of Duke University submits more than 4,500 applications per year for federal, commercial, foundation, and special society funding. The grants that result from these applications comprise almost half of Duke’s annual revenues, making it one of the top research institutions in the nation.

As at most research institutions, faculty members at Duke are responsible for managing their own research programs. According to Beth Sizemore, SAP Sponsored Research Team Lead at Duke, this presents several challenges, from managing protocols, conflicts of interest, biosafety, and materials agreements to managing the personnel and financial health of the research team.

“Faculty members are not accountants. They don’t understand debits and credits, and they don’t want to understand debits and credits,” she says.

To help them manage their research budgets, Duke built an extension to its existing employee portal specifically for research faculty. The portal extension, called MyResearch, pulls financial data from a centralized SAP system (Duke went live with SAP in 1999) and offers the f aculty easily-digestible reports of their research accounts and other information.

The MyResearch solution is tied to the existing portal security program and offers faculty members three standard views to manage their projects. The MyProjects section generates reports based on SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) queries that list all current projects. The Alert Information iView gives faculty payroll and other data rendered by SAP Visual Composer to help them manage training and protocols that require action. Finally, the Manage Active Projects section offers reports of financial data, safety information, and other critical tools. All reports are color coded to help the faculty navigate quickly through the information.

Sizemore says the key to a successful project is to engage the faculty early and often in the process, as many are difficult to track down and may be averse to training sessions or meetings that take away from their research time.

This post is excerpted from a longer article in an upcoming issue of ERP Expert.

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