ATP moves forward with new Research Administration software

The Administrative Transformation Program will start the transformation this fall to implement a user-friendly, automated electronic Research Administration solution that will support pre- through post-award Research Administration processes at UW–Madison, and, eventually, across the broader UW System.

Select modules of the Huron Research Suite were chosen after an extensive vetting process and with the help of staff from UW’s sponsored research community.

“The Huron Research Suite will improve our user experience with guided workflows and the accessibility of cloud-based technology,” said Kurt McMillen, ATP Research Administration Strategy Lead. “Everyone involved will benefit from efficiencies that provide more time to focus on supporting research and require less time to complete administrative requirements.”

The current processes supporting sponsored project administration across the UW System do not take full advantage of current technologies and national best practices.  As a result, there have been challenges to effectively supporting the research endeavors of investigators Systemwide. Aligning a Research Administration system implementation with ATP seeks to reverse that trend.

At present, staff rely on the Wisconsin Proposal Electronic Routing (WISPER) and a patchwork of bolt-on systems to complete these important processes. This network of systems also includes paper forms and web-based applications — outdated practices that can hinder the growth of the UW System’s research mission.

Huron Research Suite will eliminate the need for many of these systems and integrate with Workday, the new ERP chosen to replace Shared Financial System (SFS) and Human Resource System (HRS). Together, the systems will streamline workflows for research administrators and return valuable time to their work.  More information on the scope of these implementations can be found on the ATP website.

“The technology supporting our core pre- and post-award operations is outdated, adding to the burdens faced by our research administrators. Just as our research community is staying strong and working hard, despite the difficult times of the past year and a half, we are doubling down to support their efforts by moving forward with this much-needed system replacement,” said Steve Ackerman, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “The selected modules of the Huron Research Suite will increase our capacity to support desired growth of the UW System’s research enterprise.”

Huron Research Suite will also enable UW–Madison to maintain its consistent ranking as one of the top universities in the world with a premier research program. It generates more than $1 billion in research funding and more than $4 billion in proposals each year. It often finds itself on the leader board for top research institutions globally.

The Administrative Transformation Program (ATP) will oversee the implementation of the Huron Research Suite. The Board of Regents approved the Huron Research Suite contract in October, and the program will begin planning in November for the implementation. The new Research Administration software is anticipated to go live at UW–Madison in spring of 2023 and at all other UW campuses soon after.

“Improving our Research Administration operations is a critical component of ATP,” said Rob Cramer, Interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration at UW–Madison. “Our researchers and administrators must have modern tools to support their work.” Cramer is a co-executive sponsor of ATP with Jim Langdon, Vice President for Administration at UW System Administration.

About the Administrative Transformation Program

The Administrative Transformation Program is on a mission to rebuild the Finance, Human Resources, and Research Administration operations and services at every campus across the UW System. The goal is to reduce the complexity of the current administrative environment and refocus valuable staff time on UW’s mission of education, research, and outreach.

ATP will achieve this by working with UW’s staff to standardize processes, simplify policies, and implement a best-in-class enterprise resource planning system.

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