EARMA Conference Oslo


Establishing a cohesive cross-functional RMA team through Covid and beyond


Claire Whelan


  • A
    Aoife Brady
  • S
    Sinead Gorham
  • J
    Jane Dunne
  • J
    John Judge
  • P
    Paulo Soncini


EARMA Conference Oslo

Format: Pecha Kucha

Topic: Project Management

Session: FOR3 - Post-Award, Policy & Strategy: 4 separate Pecha Kuchas

Thursday 5 May 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. (UTC)


RMA in a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary research centre presents many learning experiences for the RMA profession. How do we ensure compliance with a multitude of institutional and departmental practices and engage effectively to maximise synergy with local RMA support, while ensuring duplication is avoided? How do we ensure effective collaboration across both pre and post-award stages especially when faced with the challenging remote working conditions resulting from Covid? This Pecha Kucha, highlights our attempt to address such questions.
Our research centre, the ADAPT Centre, is a nationally funded centre of excellence for Digital Content Technology involving eight Higher Education Institutions across three provinces in Ireland. We support over 300 researchers from numerous disciplines including Computer, Social and Health Sciences. Our RMA team, or Research Development Team (RDT), includes 3 FTE pre and 3 FTE post-award specialists. Our remit spans all activities from call horizon scanning, concept ideation and development to submission, award, project set up, management, reporting and completion, i.e. the full lifecycle. There is no one size fits all or best practice model for providing RMA in this setting and our team has evolved to cater to the needs of our researchers striving to work optimally within our affiliated institutions, through open lines of communication with all stakeholders.
Establishing a Cohesive Cross-Functional Team: Pre-Covid, the crossover between the pre and post-award RMA occurred during a monthly meeting. During Covid we pivoted our operations to meet virtually bi-weekly, troubleshoot daily via Slack and prioritise regular strategic planning days. Each team member has past experience working in typical “siloed” RMA roles and this schedule has emphasised the enormous benefits of pre- and post-award experts working together regularly with constant two way knowledge sharing.
Feedback on the practicalities of day to day post-award project management continuously expands the knowledge of the pre-award specialists, while content at proposal development stage is reviewed and critiqued by the post-award specialists. Strategic horizon scanning to identify follow-on funding for existing projects in advance of projects ending becomes naturally systematic. Resources and templates for EU project coordination and implementation including project handbooks, intranet structures, reporting requirements, and even essential agenda items etc. can be shared and streamlined across projects and standardised as deliverables at pre-award. ​Seamless project execution from the kick-off is also enabled with continual support and knowledge handover from the pre-award specialists who were involved during writing and submission. Relationships with applicants as well as partner organisations are further strengthened through a consistent channel of support.
Operating across multiple institutions: Our modus operandi is to work harmoniously with our partner institutions RMA practices and complement and collaborate with the existing support provided while ensuring compliance with local processes. Communication is crucial with the relevant divisions, Research Offices, Contracts Sections, Heads of Schools, Deans and Directors of Research. We prioritise maintaining knowledge of local procedures and any changes to such. Strong working relationships with our RMA counterparts are invaluable and are core to our RDT’s mission.
Learning outcomes of this session are aimed at research managers, both pre and post-award, at any career stage. We hope to provide a comprehensive picture of the benefits we have discovered through Covid of a cross-functional RMA set up.