The last ten years has been a long and winding road. My time in research administration began like most people’s entry into the field… by coincidence and opportunity. I took a job with an eRA software vendor as a project manager. I’d been a developer for years before I’d moved into managing teams of developers and then to project management and it didn’t take long to see just how bad the product was. The really bad news though was that as poor as the product was their support was even worse. I soldiered on hoping I could help make things better, I delivered their pre-award product to a customer in 3 months. To put that into context at that time their absolute land speed record was 18 months. I stood up their project management office with processes and documentation and was making strong progress on a half a dozen implementations. Luckily for me for all my accomplishments I was summarily dismissed. It was the first time in over 20 years (since I was a kid) that I’d been fired. After the shock wore off along with the Helsinki effect of one of the worst working environments I’d ever encountered I came away with a single thought. There must be a better way.
I gathered some friends and we got to work. We were seeking a way to bring software to those who needed it most and could least afford it and an open source solution like Kuali seemed a logical fit. It wasn’t. It was based on the same thoughts as Coeus which required far too much technical support so like the Coeus schools who were struggling it was just too much to manage. We sensed the shift in Kuali a few months before they decided to sell off millions of dollars and years of community investment to a new commercial entity they funded. We’d made significant changes to the source that was still open before they changed the licensing to freeze out affiliates like us. We were working with people from the research community to come up with ways to make it cheaper and better but we just kept being hamstrung by the Kuali software itself, it was time to shift gears.
We found another open source platform earlier this year by happenstance, one built for customer relationship management that was well established. It was a major shift, different code base, different goals, different in almost every way… and we loved it. It brought things to the table that we’d been telling Kauli to do for years. It allowed for data entry on the fly, it had notifications that were simple for end users to manage, uncomplicated workflows, it was super user friendly, supported text notifications, it had built in and easy reporting, it was multilingual and multi tenant just to name a few of the major things it delivered.
Multi tenant was the key. We’d been trying to drive the cost or eRA down for years, we were already providing software cheaper than our competition but there was a base cost for every customer to support both an application server and database which was a real issue. Multi tenant would allow us to eliminate 99% of that cost. So we were off to the races!
We’ve been working hard since the spring writing new eRA modules and will release our new platform by the end of October 2017. The initial release will include Pre-Award, Effort Reporting, Training, CITI Connect, Support, Project Management, Inventory Management, Advancement, Ad-Hoc Reporting, Grants and an Annotator. Not to leave anyone out Post Award, Detailed Budgets, Subawards, Conflict of Interest, Committees, IRB, IACUC, IBC, Negotiations, and Intellectual Property will follow before the end of 2017, you can bank on it. You can’t brag on the internet, there’s a “way back machine” that will catch up to us so we make this statement with confidence.
The truly wonderful thing about a multi tenant environment is we can provide each and every institution with their own free trial environment and we can automate setting them up too. Bored on the weekend, want to check it out, just login, provide your info and your environment will be up and running in minutes. You’ll be able to check it out for yourself. If you’re not impressed I for one want to know. We’ve shown it to a number of people and so far the reviews have been outstanding.
I’m finally going to be able to do what I’ve wanted to do for years. Deliver a fantastic system at an affordable cost. The pricing is available on the signup page, you have to see it to believe it. It’s something totally new, it’s monthly. No need for a long term commitment. Try it free for a month, like it? pay as you go, if you change your mind you’re not out tens of thousands of dollars like you’d otherwise be. We think this is going to cause a radical shift in the industry, you’re going to want to check it out. I don’t think you want to be the last person at the table who hasn’t?
Keep checking back for the official announcement, it’s coming soon.