Another research proposal slides in just under the deadline with the hope that every compliance request has been met. Administrators across research institutions are intimately familiar with that scenario—and know that it does not have to be that way.
Research administrators understand that replacing outdated, labor-intensive systems which rely on old formats with a state-of-the-art online research compliance system would save time and money—and, significantly, prevent compliance-related errors.
The key question then becomes, how do research staff convince hospital or university executives—who focus on research deliverables and financial outcomes—to approve a software purchase proposal?
You’ll find the answer in two ways: a strong proposal and an equally strong lobbying effort. Here’s how to successfully accomplish both approaches.
Do’s and Don’ts of a Strong Software Purchase Proposal
- Don’t assume it will fly on the merit of the idea alone
Remember that virtually every department in every hospital and university submits requests for funding to the institution’s chief executives on a regular basis. To get the top bosses to “yes,” administrators need to take time and make their case. Actually, in the same way researchers need to make theirs.
- Do create a convincing executive summary
This section is not really a summary; rather, it is a strong, more succinct pitch. The Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge page notes that in the Executive Summary, “You need to describe outcomes…. Describe the impact on performance—ideally a measurable impact.”
- Moving on to the body of the proposal, do describe the need for the new system in terms the institution’s top administrators can relate to
Can you: delineate the labor involved in adhering to the old system? Tell the story of a non-compliant proposal? Include a risk analysis for compliance in research proposals? Place a value on facilitating on-time submissions?
- Don’t pad your proposal with subjective terms such as “world-class” unless your terms reflect the mission of the institution—that is, this new system supports our mission as a world-class research facility
- Do offer a solution to the need for a change in systems. Describe the new system’s components and advantages
- Do add a cost-benefit analysis: specify savings in labor costs for submitting research proposals over time compared with a one-time investment in a new, updated system with built-in compliance records
- Do conclude strongly and do respectfully request an appointment for a brief presentation to answer questions
Lobbying: Getting to Yes
Typically, you will be asked to make a brief presentation on your proposal. But remember that there is a lot to be done between the time you draft a proposal and the day you make your presentation.
In fact, experts at the Harvard Business Review (HBR) agree that starting your lobbying effort by bringing project stakeholders to the table increases your chance for success.
- Enumerate the benefits that would accrue to the researchers themselves if the institution invested in a new online research compliance system. Underscore the reduced chance for compliance failures and emphasize the opportunity for facilitating the meeting of deadlines
- Ask your stakeholders to stand with you in your lobbying effort
- Act confident. A show of confidence in yourself and your proposal is contagious
- Make sure you’re ready for any questions or concerns by inviting questions from key stakeholders. This is critical during the earliest stages of your draft proposal. Their ideas and suggestions may strengthen your draft proposal. Also, be sure to amend the proposal as needed prior to sending it up the command chain
For your presentation: HBR experts recommend that your proposal and presentation “create a positive mindset” towards your request.
Do this by specifying how a new system will benefit the institution and its chief executives:
“They may stand to gain prestige, cost savings, or an opportunity to build their legacy around your idea. Shape your presentation so that it speaks directly to those benefits and the ways that your audience will reap them.”
- Keep your presentation itself and your responses brief and crystal clear
A strong software purchase proposal coupled with an equally strong lobbying effort will go a long way towards convincing institutional leaders that your proposal merits their prompt attention.
If you’re tired of an antiquated research compliance system and excited about the ways in which a foolproof online system can support the important work of your research program, Axiom can help. Contact us to learn how.