EARMA Conference Oslo


Managing Projects or Managing Uncertainty? The Complex Role of the Post-Award PM

Defining project leadership, responsibility and accountability in the context of standard PM methodologies


EARMA Conference Oslo

Format: Fifteen-Minute Discussion Tables

Topic: Project Management

Session: BLUE6 - 15 Minute Discussion Tables - Research Information for RMAs & Post-Award

Friday 6 May 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (UTC)


Over the last year, the authors have collected data through a survey of existing capacities, structures and best practice in research project management across Europe. We found that while all respondents were involved in project support, less than a quarter had any formal training in project management, and only 20% consistently follow a standard project management methodology. Many of these RMAs are designated ‘project manager’ alongside a Principal Investigator (PI), but we asked ourselves, if the PI is accountable and responsible for project delivery, how well do the standard methodologies apply to this RMA-Project Manager role?

We propose that the known challenge of distribution of project management responsibilities in Post-Award between the academic PI and the supporting RMA suggests that mapping appropriate knowledge, skills and abilities in this context is complex. Standard methodologies define a project manager as fully accountable for project delivery; but in a research environment, who is responsible for delivering a research project, considering scope, schedule, budget, quality and risk? What impact does this have on developing capacities in Post-Award support, for RMAs, and indeed for academics?

These discussions have often arisen informally between attendees at previous EARMA events and merit more in-depth consideration within the community. This discussion table will create a space to learn from the experiences of post-award RMAs.

Through a short, conversational introduction by two speakers and a supporting handout, participants will be provided with definitions and context from standard methodologies, and relevant insights from our survey data. From this we anticipate a healthy debate on the accepted role of the academic as project lead, the “optimum” model for division of project management capacity between academic and RMA, whether this has altered since the rapid expansion of remote and distributed working, and how to implement these learnings into pre-award planning. It may also cover which standard project methodologies or tools are applicable to research projects, if any, and how to build relevant and effective post-award management skills in researchers and support staff.

The Presenters can offer the participants a wide perspective of how project management methodologies and tools facilitate the management and administration of research and innovation projects in academia and in comparable industry settings. Ultimately, our goal is to increase the prospects of successful project implementation. Moreover, the role of RMAs in continuously improving the level of project management organizational maturity will be clarified and key actions towards that end will be identified. Following the discussion, the presenters will assess the potential for a dedicated EARMA working group on adapting and developing project management modalities for Post-Award.