Do you Use the Right Tool?
“In academia, the drivers for efficiency are different from a business,” says Shane Moeykens, PhD,Director of Research Administration & EPSCoR from University of Maine, “so the question for administrators is: aren't there more impactful things you could be doing with your time?”
We recently reconnected with Shane at the NCURA 59th annual meeting. He brings a unique perspective to higher education technology at U Maine with his 15 years of experience in the engineering software sector.
Saving time is a common theme to our conversations, but Shane's background and his current position revealed a few things about InfoReady Review that increased efficiency for departmental activities.
1. Well-designed User Experience goes a long way. "I'm really happy with the user environment itself; how proposals are uploaded and stored, and how rubrics make sense to reviewers." he told us. While we already know that transparency in processes is important, the visual and tactical interaction with any technology should be clear, organized, and aesthetically consistent.
2. Systems should be able to handle projects of all shapes and sizes. Shane is in charge of EPSCoR, or Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research: a unique federal funding opportunity whose size surpasses other internal limited submission competitions.20-30 investigators submit final proposals from all over the state. Each consisting of over 100 pages. Only 6 groups moved forward. These 6 proposals are reviewed by more than a dozen state-appointed committee members. “As you add more applicants, documents, reviewers and review processes, the competition gets exponentially more complicated,” says Shane, “and InfoReady Review made it possible for every piece of the EPSCoR competition to stay organized.”
3. If a colleague trusts the system, you can too. If an institution has already made an investment in a system, the transition to another department can be pretty seamless. “Jason Charland, Director of Grant Development, was already running internal competitions with InfoReady Review, so that’s why we decided to pilot the system with EPSCoR.” says Shane. “We knew he’d be a strong support. After one hour of training with a grad student who had expertise, we dove in to define the rubrics and design the review experience up-front.” Not only was Jason a resource, but also provided best practices when using the system to eliminate implementation challenges.
Shane’s confidence in the right technology is encouraging, given the increasing financial strain on institutions. With the right tools that can meet many different needs, administrators can focus on the funding that stimulates impact both locally and nationally. The most important tasks, as Shane suggests, involve the people and ideas that fuel innovation in ways that technology simply cannot replicate.