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Improving Research Support - How The Iris Program At The University of Auckland Enhanced the Research Support Ecosystem

Mr Stephen Whiteside

The University of Auckland

The University of Auckland’s research support ecosystem was disjoint, with systems across two different organisations and varying practices per faculty. The complexities of our research support system meant that the university had a high cost research support function, with low levels of research satisfaction. The Improving Research Support (IRiS) program boldly standardised researcher support roles across the University and UniServices, it’s commercially focussed subsidiary. As a consequence, research support has now been simplified, with staff placed closer to principal investigators and faculty teams applying for funding and conducting research. Standard research support processes have been consolidated into a Research Operations Centre, complementing the direct support resources in faculties.

Along with standardising roles and processes, the University also developed a map of its research support ecosystem. This allowed the University to think of researcher support requirements from a customer perspective, rather than the traditional view of departments taking a narrow view of their own systems. As part of this process, the University used business intelligence as a glue to bind its systems together, and decommissioned its historical Research Management System.

We o en think of digital transformation in the context of new and disruptive technologies. In this case, transformation has occurred through taking an end to end customer perspective in order to significantly enhance support for the research lifecycle. The University now operates without a Research Office and without a traditional research management system, but has significantly improved the focus of IT systems and researcher support.

This presentation will outline the process of transformation, through development of a new service delivery model, through to developing a new research ecosystem to support the standardised processes, and enhancing reporting through a focus on business intelligence. These changes could not have been achieved without strong sponsorship, a focus on program and change management, and an integrated IT program supporting the University’s research support vision.