• Erica Schaffel

How A Small Office of Research Development More Than Doubled Their Limited Submissions

A conversation with Kim Littlefield, Asst. VP for Research Development and Learning, University of South Alabama

When Kim Littlefield started at the University of South Alabama (USA), the Office of Research and Economic Development was running approximately four limited submission competitions per year. While that volume is typical for a small institution, Kim made it her mission to increase limited submissions - and she’s knocked it out of the park.

Thus far this fiscal year the USA has run 10 limited submission competitions and they’re projecting to run at least 25 by the end of September 2017.

Here are three tips from Kim to get you started down the same path:

1. Give it a home and start small!

The first thing Kim did was bring the management of the limited submission process under the Office of Research Development and Learning (RDL). Kim explains, “Giving the process a home and a single of point of contact was a critical first step and immediately provided accountability, auditability, and accessibility to the process”.

The first limited submission competition Kim ran was for an opportunity specifically targeted to new faculty. This made it easy for Kim to recruit potential applicants and helped define the volume of potential applicants that might apply.

2. Increase awareness!

Kim centralized the posting of limited submission information in two locations: the RDL website and InfoReady Review™, an online software platform for automating limited submissions (and other internal competitions). As a result, faculty members now know where to look for opportunities and competition guidelines, which helps them discover new opportunities as well.

Recently RDL has begun an all-out limited submission eligibility awareness campaign. Submission-eligible nominees receive an approval memo, a copy of which routes electronically with their proposal. The memo brings awareness to department chairs and informs the central grants office who is/is not cleared for takeoff. Institutional nominees are also announced on the RDL website. As Kim notes, “this is a small but significant way for the institution to recognize the efforts and expertise of faculty who step up to apply for these very competitive opportunities and to bring awareness of their efforts to their faculty peers”.

3. Standardize processes and automate them!

USA purchased InfoReady Review to assist with process standardization and automate many of the administrative tasks associated with limited submission competitions.

For many competitions, the RDL at starts with a notice of intent (NOIs). The NOI is a brief form, created in InfoReady Review, which collects the faculty members’ name and project title. Kim says, “The NOI is a great way to guage interest in a particular opportunity and an effective way to estimate if an internal competition will be necessary. Moreover, for those opportunities that progress to a competition, the NOI information makes identifying and recruiting reviewers more efficient and effective”.

If a full competition is necessary, Kim automates the entire process. She says, “What used to take 15-40 hours to administer now takes 1-2 hours.” Kim can now manage many more competitions in the same amount of time.

Kim makes it sound easy, but we know how challenging it can be to implement change. Kudos to her and her team!

So…what’s YOUR story? What have you learned or accomplished that you’d like to share with your peers? Email Amanda at axydis@inforeadycorp.com to share your story.