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Codesigning the TGMS

The Tri-agency grants management solution (TGMS) initiative is committed to engaging in codesign activities with users to acquire knowledge that is foundational in guiding the selection of the grants management solution.

Approach

In the fall 2019 and winter of 2020, individuals from the research community (primary users of the agencies’ systems) participated in workshops to identify key needs, tasks and pain points of the current tri agency grants management systems. Users mapped their experiences to gain greater visibility into how they interact with current grants management systems and what an ideal future state experience would look like. See below what the TGMS team heard from applicants, reviewers and research administrators.

User design principles

The knowledge learned from these workshops is guiding the selection of the agencies’ grants management solution. Five user design principles are stemming from what we heard from users and represent the desired value and benefits derived from the new solution.

User design principles

Description: User design principles

Automation: Features such as auto-save and automatic notifications.

Collaboration: Helping users to delegate access and tasks to other users to promote collaboration.

Reusability: Ability to pre-populate information from previous submissions and requests.

Simplicity: Collection of essential information is performed efficiently.

Visibility: Integrated templates, workflows and dashboards promotes collaboration and transparency.

What we heard

Maps offer a glimpse into what the ideal user experience is desired for applicants, reviewers and research administrators. They are a great visual tool to represent what the TGMS team heard from current systems users.

The applicant

Applicants want a flexible solution that allows them to access all funding opportunities with a single username and password as well as a re-useable (create only once) profile. They want a flexible portal that allows them to easily collaborate with other funding opportunity participants. Applicants also want to be kept in the loop about the status of their submission as it goes through the grants management lifecycle.

A map depicting the ideal experience of a candidate with the new solution when performing tasks such as finding appropriate funding opportunities, submitting an application, collaborating with peers and managing funds.

Description: The applicant

There are four phases to a candidate’s envisioned journey through the new solution. The map identifies certain tasks for each phase. These tasks are enabled by desired user experience attributes: harmonized processes and tools, automation and system-enabled workflows.

Phase 1: Funding opportunity setup, identification and profiles

  1. Icon of a computer screen and cloud with arrows depicting a cycle. Search the tri-agency database that hosts all funding opportunities (FO)
  2. Icon of a silhouette. Create a single tri-agency user profile
  3. Icon of a check mark. Match profile to FOs across agencies
  4. Icon of a ringing bell. Receive automated notifications for new FOs
  5. Icon of a handshake. Send requests for letters of support and signatures through the portal

Phase 2: Application and CV submission

  1. Icon of a document. Use harmonized CV templates and reusable data and materials
  2. Icon of an arrow pointing to up a cloud. Import CV information and external material to create CV
  3. Icon of a question mark. Access checklists, training and guidance through self-service and self-help
  4. Icon of a gear with two flags. Confirm eligibility and application completeness through automated checks
  5. Icon of a diskette. Ensure version control, automatically save and preview documents
  6. Icon of an open hand and a key. Delegate access for application completion
  7. Icon of a pencil and two arrows forming a circle. Delegate read and write access in portal
  8. Icon of a computer screen showing graphics. Track application status using dashboard

Phase 3: Grant allocation

  1. Icon of an opened envelope. Receive automated email notification when results are ready to be viewed in the portal
  2. Icon of a computer. View, query and respond to results and action tasks such as accept/reject in the portal
  3. Icon of two arrows forming a circle. Download and repurpose past applications
  4. Icon of a clip board and check list. View grant allocations and fund-related tasks in the dashboard

Phase 4: Post-grant administration

  1. Icon of two gears. Submit and track reports and ensure ongoing awardee eligibility through a harmonized electronic process
  2. Icon of a computer screen showing graphics. Manage amendment requests in the portal
  3. Icon of a ringing bell. Receive automated notifications for upcoming reporting deadlines
  4. Icon of an open hand and a key. Delegate access to research administrator to support the reporting process

The research administrator

Research administrators work closely with one or multiple applicants and on one or more applications. The role is complex. Research administrators want a single solution that allows them to get in-the-moment responses from the agencies for help and guidance. They want to have centralized communications and information in the solution portal, ensuring access the best possible information for their needs.

A map depicting the ideal experience of a research administrator with the new solution when supporting applicants and funding recipients throughout the grants management lifecycle.

Description: The research administrator

There are five phases to a research administrator’s envisioned journey through the new solution. The map identifies certain tasks for each phase. These tasks are enabled by desired user experience attributes: harmonized processes and tools, automation and system-enabled workflows.

Phase 1: Funding opportunity setup, identification and profiles

  1. Icon of a computer screen and cloud with arrows depicting a cycle. Search the tri-agency database that hosts all funding opportunities (FO) and includes historical funding and review information.
  2. Icon of a silhouette. Access a unique profile to support applicant submission.
  3. Icon of a computer screen showing graphics. Track progress and view full application in dashboard.
  4. Icon of a ringing bell. Receive automated notifications regarding upcoming FOs.
  5. Icon of an open hand and a key. Receive access from the applicant for trouble-shooting and application completion.

Phase 2: Application and CV submission

  1. Icon of a computer screen showing graphics. Consult high-level overviews and monitor application progress in dashboard.
  2. Icon of a computer screen. Receive in-portal notifications of applicant submissions.
  3. Icon of a pencil and two arrows forming a circle. Track changes and amendments when conducting review in system.
  4. Icon of a computer screen showing an envelope. Access agency staff via portal or phone.
  5. Icon of a document and magnifying glass. Accomplish tasks related to submission previews, internal institutional reviews, approval process and monitoring in portal.

Phase 3: Grant allocation

  1. Icon of a ringing bell. Deliver results simultaneously to institution and applicant.
  2. Icon of arrow on a cloud pointing down. View notices of decision in portal and download them.
  3. Icon of an open hand and a key. Receive access from the applicant to written reviews and notices of decision.
  4. Icon of a ringing bell. Receive system-generated institutional notifications and respond in portal.

Phase 4: Post-grant administration

  1. Icon of a ringing bell. Receive reporting notifications by “opting-in”.
  2. Icon of a document. Access pre-populated report templates that include relevant database information and indicate sections to be filled.
  3. Icon of a document with a dollar sign. Follow fill, modify and approve workflows for automated financial reporting.
  4. Icon of a computer. View amendment requests submitted by applicants in the portal to facilitate internal approval and final submission.

Phase 5: Evaluation and monitoring

  1. Icon of a question mark in a comment bubble. Access usable data for program and performance evaluations through a self-service query tool.
  2. Icon of a computer screen showing graphics. Get a holistic view of the grant’s lifecycle in a dashboard.
  3. Icon of a ringing bell. Receive automated reminders for webinars, deadlines and reporting.

The reviewer

Reviewers want to be able to provide their availability, area of expertise, experience and possible conflicts of interests within the solution. They want the solution to allow materials to be accessible online and offline for review, comments and scoring and later, if required, uploaded to the portal prior to assessment discussions.

A map depicting the ideal experience of a reviewer with the new solution when providing quality assessments of applications submitted to the agencies for funding.

Description: The reviewer

There are three phases to a reviewer’s envisioned journey through the new solution. The map identifies certain tasks for each phase. These tasks are enabled by desired user experience attributes: harmonized processes and tools, automation and system-enabled workflows.

Phase 1: Funding opportunity setup, identification and profiles

  1. Icon of a computer screen and cloud with arrows depicting a cycle. Sign-in with one username, one password and a single tri-agency profile.
  2. Icon of a computer. Receive portal-assisted review invitations that use personal calendar information to track availability.
  3. Icon of a calendar. Confirm availability through online scheduling using personal calendar (e.g. Outlook, Gmail).
  4. Icon of two arrows forming a circle. Prompt system to automatically re-use declarations of conflict of interest.
  5. Icon of a ringing bell. Receive notifications when review material is available or updated.

Phase 2: Review process and management

  1. Icon of a puzzle piece. Be automatically included in pools of potential reviewers based on profile.
  2. Icon of silhouette pointing at a blackboard. Receive online guidance and training to support review process.
  3. Icon of arrow on a cloud pointing down. Download application data from portal to safely conduct reviews offline.
  4. Icon of a handshake. Rely on the system to accommodate the differing review processes and models one-on-one or by committee.
  5. Icon of arrow on a cloud pointing down. Download documents from the portal to apply reviews and comments offline and easily upload them back to the portal.
  6. Icon of a computer screen with mathematical symbols. Avoid manual efforts via online scoring and electronic voting.
  7. Icon of a computer screen showing graphics. View scoring trends and impacts in the dashboard.

Phase 3: Administration

  1. Icon of document with an x and signature field. Submit expense claims online using a template with pre-populated fields.
  2. Icon of two arrows forming a circle. Re-use past claims data.
  3. Icon of a ringing bell. Receive automated notifications regarding competition results.
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