Managing Funded Projects

Congratulations!  Now, to get your project started.

For faculty desiring an orientation to project management, please consider the following guide developed by The UMass Amherst Center for Research on Families as it outlines the negotiation process, project administration, project leadership and dissemination:

Also consider the UMass Roles & Responsibilities of PIs/Co-PIs (PDF) for an introduction to post-award conduct, budget management, and details on individual responsibilities in project management as dictated by the University.

After reviewing these guides, make an initial appointment with the Office of Research and Engagement to clarify the steps for establishing a project account.

Please reference the OGCA website for more information on award administration, particularly the process and timeline behind setting up an award.

Once the account is established, make a follow-up appointment with ORE for a project management meeting. This meeting serves to align ORE with your current project goals and needs. During the meeting expect to:

  • Review your budget and timeline;
  • Clarify the roles of the PI, ORE, College HR Office, and others in managing administrative aspects, monitoring spending, hiring staff, procuring office space, purchasing supplies and equipment, and travel;
  • Review procedures for all personnel actions, GAs, additional compensation, academic year effort, consultants, and/or subcontractors (OGCA handles subcontracts).

Developing a Project Work Plan

At this point, you should develop a project work plan.  The project work plan serves as an opportunity to establish project goals and set timelines to accomplish these goals.  Continuously maintaining your work plan,  

  • Identify goals, timeline and key staff
  • Set deadlines for key project elements, reporting requirements, and dissemination activities.

Review the UMass Memorandum of Understanding for Awards which Include Co-PIs (PDF) to re-orient your responsibilities as a Principle Investigator and what tasks and responsibilities were designated for your project team.  This reminder will be helpful when considering how to break down your project into a feasible timeline.

When structuring your project work plan, consider organizing project objectives into small components (e.g. yearly, monthly, and weekly goals) through a GANTT chart.  GANTT charts are often used in project management to display project objectives and activities against a projected timeline.  This structure helps visualize what activities are occurring, how long they’re scheduled for, and where activities might overlap.

A comprehensive list of resources is provided below for an introduction to GANTT chart management:

  • For an introduction to GANTT charts, including how to maximize their use for efficient management please see here.
  • GANTT Chart Template (xlsx)
  • For examples of completed GANTT Charts in the provided template see here and here (xlsx).

Meeting with your Project Team

After you’ve compiled a comprehensive work plan, you’ll want to schedule an initial meeting with your project team.  

An invitation should be extended to all co-investigators, consultants, research assistants, and staff if already hired.  The meeting will be an opportunity to review project agreements, serving as a “kick-off” for the overall project.  Keep in mind the following objectives when organizing this meeting:

  • Schedule future meetings as contracted under the work plan
  • Establish a common understanding of your expectations from co-principle investigators and consultants
  • Review meeting times, tasks, due dates, timing of papers, authorship, etc.
  • ORE and your Department Chairs are available to mediate any challenges that may arise.

Please reference the sample task list for team meetings.  Conducting your meeting with a set task list can help keep your team oriented towards the project goals and provide structure for concise updates.

ORE and the College HR Office can assist you with the following aspects of project management:

  • Ensuring personnel processes are followed and paperwork completed in a timely manner, including assistantships, staff hiring, academic year effort, and additional summer compensation.
  • Periodically reviewing spending activity and addressing any funding issues as they arise (funding extensions, bridging funds, etc.).

Forms, Policies, and Procedures

The OGCA website is a valuable resource for award processing and management, covering common terminology and providing anticipated timelines for award processing to the Controller’s Office.  For a breakdown of OGCA services and descriptions of the awards process, please see below:

Listed below are common College policies that are often encountered during the project management process.  Please review this list, as some of our policies may be relevant to your project.

For additional information and resources for project management, please consult the following:

Ethics and Compliance

The Human Research Protection Office (HRPO) is a critical resource for projects involving human subjects research.  The HRPO and Institutional Review Board (IRB) are designed to protect the rights and welfare of research participants.  Please review their website for more information on the IRB process and HRPO mission.

Before conducting research, you should be familiar with the University guidelines and policies regarding research ethics.  Please reference Research Ethics on the OGCA website, which provides listings and explanations of relevant research ethics policies along with contact information for the Compliance Program.

For research with an international component, you may need to consider the University policies on export controls.  Export controls are U.S. laws and regulations for the release of critical technologies, information, and services to foreign nationals, within and outside of the United States, and foreign countries for reasons of foreign policy and national security.  

Lastly, review the following for specific information on University forms, policies, and procedures regarding research ethics and compliance:

Summit

The University uses Summit, a web-based system, to monitor financial activity on grants and contracts.  Faculty can view any financial activity on their grant through Summit by entering their NetID and password.  

While this provides an overview of grant activity (updated monthly), it will not reflect adjustments, student hourly encumbrances, graduate student curriculum fees, or fringe.  Summit will also not list pending charges such as ProCard purchases and travel.

Therefore, it is strongly recommended that faculty contact Sandi Harris Graves in ORE (educore@educ.umass.edu) if they would like accurate, up-to-date amounts available on their grant.

Publicity

Don’t forget to plan for dissemination, reporting and publicity, including the following:

  • Make sure your Department Chair, the Associate Dean for Research and Engagement, and the Dean know your proposal was funded as soon as you are notified.
  • Contact the College Communications and Marketing Coordinator (Denise Schwartz, dms@educ.umass.edu) to discuss media relations and ongoing publicity for your project.  A sample press release is provided here.
  • Make sure to acknowledge the sponsor in all reports and publicity materials – sponsors often specify how this should be done (e.g. sponsor name, project name, project #)
  • Identify and plan for grant performance reports, including due dates, and become familiar with expected report formats.
  • Publish and present findings throughout the project period.  Work with your team to identify forums and develop interim presentations for delivery along the way. Set deadlines and schedule time to write.