So you have been awarded your grant…

Winning grants is tough, in fact we know it is really tough. Much time and energy is spent (often on lots of unsuccessful applications) in the process of developing a grant proposal. Whether you are successful or not will depend on many different factors but when you are successful that’s when the real challenge can start! To help make sure you deliver your grant effectively I have highlighted a number of areas below that you should be thinking about quickly.

For many of the following tasks you should always work closely with your Research Office or administration and finance colleagues. They will be able to help make sure that your research runs smoothly and you can get on with the most important and interesting parts. Having said that though, you are the PI, so you need to know where things are at on your project as in most cases the funder will come to you first if they have any questions. You remain responsible for making sure things run smoothly. Just make sure you use the support infrastructure surrounding you!

1) Set up the project: When you develop your application you are normally asked to provide a project plan. This may be in the form of milestones and usually is structured so that research is completed over a number of phases on a particular time scale. Make sure you get this out and check it is still deliverable. If you need to make significant changes then talk to the funder as well as your support teams. Once the final plan is agreed then make sure you stick to it! It can be useful to put milestones for outputs, reporting and meetings etc in your calendar so that you can keep on top of the project.

Part of your project set up may involve recruiting staff. If this applies to you then talk to HR as soon as possible. Any delays in staff recruitment can result in delays to projects and possible loss of part of the grant income.

2) Contracts: Your funder will send your university a contract for the research. Your university administration will handle the bulk of this but you should also take the time to look at the contract and make sure that at the very least the components relating to any deliverables make sense and are correct. Your support teams should point out any tricky clauses or issues to you but make sure if you have any questions that you ask for clarification before going too much further.

If your research involves working with other partners then it is likely that you will need to put sub-contracts in place. You can support this process by helping to facilitate conversations between your administration colleagues and that of partner universities. It is worth always keeping your Co-I’s in the loop so they can help resolve any issues quickly at their end if required. They don’t happen often but if everyone is up to speed they can always be resolved more quickly.

3) Working with Finance: Get advice and support from finance and build relationships with them. Hopefully you will already have a good relationship with them as they will have helped to develop your original budget. Finance can be an important ally and always (try) to see their nagging as a way of making sure you deliver the grant and spend money on eligible items! Making sure you spend your grant is an important part of delivering the research. Funder reporting will normally involve financial reporting so staying on top of this is important!

If you can keep on top of and address these three broad areas from the moment you are awarded the grant then you will go a long way towards successful delivery. You may encounter problems as you progress; this is common. If this occurs then always talk to your research office. Most problems can be resolved, especially if they are flagged up as early as possible.

And one last thing…..Remember; if you don’t spend the money you can’t claim it. The impact of this can be both personal and institutional reputational damage. Keep on top of that project from day one! Are there other areas you should be thinking about to make sure your research is delivered successfully?