Improved Accuracy and Accessibility of Current & Pending Support Data

Introduction

Bad Rabbit, in partnership with a preeminent U.S children's hospital, created an automated process for creating “Other Support” documents using information already available in grants and awards systems. The new process generates a complete and accurate representation of a PI’s support in seconds, saving time and reducing frustration for both faculty and administrators. 

The Situation

Our client is one of the leading pediatric research facilities in the world, and among the nation’s largest recipients of National Health Institute (NIH) funding, receiving over $100 million in federal grant awards annually. In maintaining these grants, administrators face a challenge common among research administrators (RAs): generating up-to-date and accurate Other Support documents. These reports, also called “active and pending” or “current and pending support” documents, disclose the financial resources available to a researcher, including their research grants, institutional awards, and/or cooperative agreements and contracts.  

The NIH requires Other Support information from all applicants receiving grant awards and senior/key personnel submitting progress reports, but completing these documents can be a frustrating process, requiring information pulled and consolidated from multiple systems (grants, financial management). Security constraints can further restrict accessibility for administrators. Client's RAs were digging through data in their grant management system and manually transferring it to external tracking documents before individually formatting reports for the NIH. It was a tedious, inefficient, and error-prone process. Client administrative directors sought functionality to automatically generate and access all of the information necessary for reporting Other Support to the NIH , including a way to bypass system limitations when accessing non-confidential data from other departments.  

The Approach

Bad Rabbit’s development process prioritizes customer collaboration and simple, cost-efficient solutions. When the client requested enhancements to make grant reporting easier, Bad Rabbit applied the following principles to deliver a complete solution as efficiently as possible:

Listen carefully to customer feedback. Client administrative directors and Bad Rabbit worked together to identify the main challenges in completing Other Support documents. From there, Bad Rabbit prioritized the list of enhancements that would make the process easier, focusing on simple tools to make best use of the data already stored in client's grant management system. At every stage, Bad Rabbit listened carefully to feedback from client administrators, ensuring practical and resource-efficient solutions.

Prototype early and often. Working from the prioritized list of client’s enhancement requests, Bad Rabbit set out to design the most needed features first. Creating a working prototype as early as possible in the process drives better discussions and tighter customer involvement in the project, and helps avoid wasted effort.

Conduct real-world testing. Once the core features were in place, client RAs put them to use, providing real-time feedback that Bad Rabbit used to inform additional changes.

Embrace the simple solution. Bad Rabbit considered more complex tools to address client’s grant reporting needs, but ultimately, the simple solution was easiest and most efficient for administrators to use. Research dollars are precious; this low-cost, high-value tool makes grant reporting easier without extraneous features. 

The Solution

Working directly with system users, Bad Rabbit developed a tool that:

  • Automatically extracts proposed and awarded faculty support information from client's electronic sponsored awards system, and

  • Generates a Word document formatted to meet NIH guidelines, which RAs can edit and use to build final Other Support documents 

This document creation functionality was embedded into the grants management system to seamlessly support the administrators’ daily work processes within an already-familiar interface. It’s a user-friendly and effective solution to a common pain point for grants administrators.

The Outcome

Greater Utility, Accurate Reporting, and Ongoing Improvements
Since implementing Bad Rabbit’s Other Support functionality in July 2018, client reports:

  • Reduced time spent completing Other Support documents

  • Less human error in reporting thanks to elimination of manual data manipulation

  • Significant ease of use and reduced stress for users 

The benefits of this functionality were immediate, and reflect the benefit of long-term partnership with Bad Rabbit: efficient, affordable solutions borne out of true collaboration.