KRISTAL, a bespoke system for end-to-end pre and post-award research grants management, went live in March 2013. Work has since been focused on embedding the new system into University processes. This has involved user training, responding to helpdesk queries, defect resolution and reporting.
The KRISTAL Phase 2 project started in August 2017. The project delivered a number of new or enhancements to existing KRISTAL functions, as well as expanding the suite of reports available to academics and researchers to help them manage their research grants.
The project delivered the following benefits:
An approval code to ensure grants always go to the appropriate level of approval.
The ability to better manage EU grants and claims.
Better information to help Faculty Research and Innovation Offices plan, manage and report on their portfolio of Research Grants.
A bespoke contract tracking system to more robustly process and report on contracts and meet audit requirements.
The project was jointly run by Research and Innovation Service and IT, and concluded in March 2020.
If you have any questions about the project please contact Clive Gray, RIS Operations Manager and Business Lead for the Project.
EU and Foreign Currency
The main purpose of this module was to record claims that we have made for these grants, and change the outstanding exchange rate as required in KRISTAL, to allow us to calculate an accurate budget for investigators to use in their IGRs (Investigator Grant Reports). Any differences between claims and expenditure generate adjustments that can automatically be applied to SAP so that expenditure is also correct. Additionally, these claims are more easily auditable now that they are within KRISTAL rather than being manually created spreadsheets.
The Claim module went live in February 2018. The August 2018 mailing of the IGRs was the first to show the new updated budgets.
Risk Review Dashboard and Approvals
The current risk review process uses macro-enabled spreadsheets which drives the level of approval required for a grant. Auditors highlighted that as this is separate there is no control over the actual approval level as well as not always having segregation of duties between users who costed the proposal and approved it. Users with Apple Macs and other computers that can’t run macro enabled spreadsheets highlighted issues with usability. Concerns were also raised about academics receiving email notifications when amendments are made to grants.
An approval code was introduced to the RRD and inputting this into KRISTAL ensures that grants always receive the correct level of approval. Approvers can now view risk documents for a grant from within KRISTAL in PDF form, so Documentum is no longer used for RRDs and declarations, and Mac users can view them without issue. Additionally, the user who moved a grant to ‘Costed and Priced’ cannot now approve the grant.
We stopped academics from receiving notifications in April 2019. The separation of duties changes were released in May 2019, and the remainder of the module was released in August 2019.
The RIS Legal Services team were recording the status of non-standard contracts using a number of spreadsheets. There are obviously problems with this when more than one person needs to update or view records. Occasionally things can go wrong with spreadsheets resulting in the need for a rebuild. Our auditors were unhappy with this, and so we developed an on line system which can pull key data from KRISTAL when appropriate.
The system went live in September 2019.
A range of new and updated reports were delivered alongside the KRISTAL modules throughout the life of the project, including reporting requirements arising from these modules.
We carried out a trial of software called NPrinting, designed to automate the production and distribution of reports. Unfortunately the trial was unsuccessful as the functionality did not meet our requirements.
Updates to existing reports including the EU and Foreign Currency Module changes have been made and are now live. The following reports were also delivered:
- Third Party Report
- Subcontractor Report
- Portfolio Plus – an expanded and enhanced version of the current Portfolio report
- Research Grant Budget Snapshot for Academics
- Research Grant Activity Summary