Case Study

The University of Maryland

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Problem: Paper-based Processes

The University of Maryland (UMD), an R1 university recognized for high research activity, uses several Kuali Research modules to manage administration processes such as proposals, awards, negotiations, subawards and soon COI/COC disclosure and export control. Still, there were essential processes that fell outside the scope of those solutions. 

The research department used paper-based processing to manage outstanding processes such as requesting animal purchases, research space use requests, and even keycard access requests for sensitive research laboratories. Lengthy delays in approvals pushed research folks to seek out a better way to manage those processes. 

Solution: Forms and Workflow Automation

The University of Maryland selected Kuali Build, a no-code form builder and workflow automation software, to fulfill their needs. According to Stephen Dowdy, Director of Research Information Systems & Integration at UMD, “Kuali Build really fills those little holes” that exist outside the scope of an electronic research administration (eRA) system.

Kuali Build provided the functionality the research department was missing. Build is equipped with an intuitive form builder and workflow builder with drag-and-drop capabilities. Robust workflow automation capabilities allow users to create workflows unique to university processes in regards to roles and groups as well as complex approval routing.

That is the best app I have used in a long time. Easy, intuitive, seamless. Dr. Laurie Locascio, VP for Research, University of Maryland

Results: Automation Makes Research Processes Efficient

Before using Kuali Build, hundreds of the internal processes within UMD’s research department required wet ink signatures. Kuali Build gave administrators a far more efficient alternative that still provides an audit trail for compliance purposes and also better serves faculty and staff.  

"99.9% of our business processes don’t require a legally binding contract. That’s where Kuali Build has the greatest impact.”
Stephen Dowdy, Director of Research Information Systems & Integration, University of Maryland

In addition to this change in mindset, Kuali Build has also helped UMD’s research department improve efficiency and transparency, provided an easy to use solution, and opened new possibilities for integrations with Kuali Research.

Efficient, transparent approvals

Before using Kuali Build, approval processes took weeks to complete. Paper-based processing meant it could take over a week just to locate a document in the approval routing. Now, Dowdy and other stakeholders can click a button and see where a document sits in the workflow. 

Easy to use platform

Automation tools can be difficult to navigate. Kuali Build, however, is uniquely easy to use with little to no training, even for busy administrators in top-level roles.

One of the first processes that Dowdy automated with Kuali Build was routed to five upper-level roles. With no training, the provost and the vice president of research signed and approved documents. Dowdy’s Vice President for Research, Dr. Laurie Locascio, sent the following note to Dowdy after her first interaction with Kuali Build,  “I approved [this form] and that is the best app that I have used in a long time- easy, intuitive, seamless.“

Integrations with the eRA

UMD is currently working on building forms that are integrated with their eRA system. Integrated forms could significantly cut down on paper-processing and manual entry. 

One of these integrated applications simplifies the credit split routing process, a process which results in budget allocations for researchers and their departments from the University’s  indirect cost return. Currently, credit split routing is done through an inefficient series of manual entry, emailed PDFs, and meetings, then manually recorded in Kuali Research. 

Using Kuali Build, credit split data would be pulled from the eRA, amended for special circumstances, then routed appropriately. After it has been approved, Kuali Build would push that information into Kuali Research for record-keeping. 

The University of Maryland’s research folks look forward to launching this process and many others with Kuali Build in coming months.

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