Integrated Research Information Systems (IRIS)
IRIS is a large system development project that aims to simplify the administration of research grants. Throughout the life of a project, researchers currently need to submit the same information into many different internal and external systems, which can lead to frustration, administrative burden and errors. The IRIS project aims to:
- redesign systems to improve usability;
- increase interaction between internal systems to ensure that information only needs to be entered once; and
- where possible, ensure internal systems interact with external systems.
We have replaced the University Research Management System (URMS) with a new system, the Costing Tool. URMS was used for 15 years, but the technology underpinning it was out of date and the interface was ready for a refresh. R&IS and CiCs have worked with colleagues from Faculties to design the replacement and built a new costing system to match the broad range of user requirements.
Our first aim was to launch an URMS replacement which provides functionality which is easier to use, but just as robust. We also wanted to use a more sustainable platform (not JAVA based); and to create a tool which could be extended and integrated down the line with other systems. We undertook user testing and piloted the new Costing Tool in departments from each faculty, before launching the system on a faculty by faculty basis.
We are planning the very many improvements we can make in future phases of development, which will aim to improve the functionality, making it more tailored to individual departments and providing better integration with the University’s Finance system, uBASE.
In the short-term we are continuing to develop the tool, based on the user feedback we have received. The work will then move to improve the process and systems for handovers of projects from R&IS to Finance. Much of this work will be invisible to academic departments but we will be looking for volunteers to help identify issues and test the developments made.
What's new in the costing tool?
- The most common feedback we had when we asked how we could improve URMS was around the treatment of staff salaries. The costing tool displays the correct salary for staff on grades 1-9 from the point of creating the costing. Professorial staff are put into the correct £10K band from the point of creating the costing. This will mean costings are more accurate earlier in the process.
- We have introduced a 'running total' for each project, displayed without the need to run a report, available from the time the user selects the funder and adds a staff cost.
- We have reduced and refined the number of questions which are non-financial to ensure PIs think about the most important issues.
- We have introduced the ability to share a costing with a colleague at the University who is not named on the costing.
We have also made some background changes with two notable ones:
- The same person can no longer create and approve the same costing. This was not robust in URMS but is good practice for financial systems.
- We have also tidied up our sponsor database to remove all the duplicate data. We have re-created and validated the 1,000 most common funders, but will need to recreate others as the new costing tool starts to be used. Additional funders/collaborators will be set up as required. Users have the option to select ‘Unlisted’ if their funder/collaborator is not currently listed.
We hope you like the new tool. We welcome feedback on the current version and also ideas for future developments – use the 'Feedback' button within the costing tool (top right of the screen), or email@example.com if you would like to send screenshots and please use the helpline if you have any urgent queries ext 27629.
Please ensure that you have updated your browser to the most recent version. The costing tool works on Macs, PCs and mobile devices.
As part of the IRIS project, the University has launched myResearch, which brings together systems and resources for research projects. It can be accessed via MUSE or directly. Tell us what you think.
This short animation introduces the first developments. We hope you like them and are keen to hear your feedback.
The IRIS Project Board includes representatives of all five faculties and Professional Services. Further information on the project is available on the CICS website.