Understand Project Lifecycles

At U-M, for ORSP, and for institutions like R1 Universities, there are seven recognizable and important stages for a project’s life cycle that each have different implications for Research Administration and Award Management. These stages are not the only way to define project processes, but they are critical stages in a project lifecycle for the purposes of navigating U-M and external sponsor institutional process requirements. 

Refine Ideas: This is a process of refining an idea towards a feasible project scope that is appropriate for a specific funding agency. Complex ideas and processes may need to be broken down, differentiated, and developed into multiple projects and concepts. Integrating and elaborating synergistic projects as a research program that can be funded by a variety of different sponsors can enable a variety of long term benefits. Follow this link for some prompts to help you think about how to strategically frame your ideas into a project or work towards a comprehensive research program vision.

Find Funding: There are a variety of external and internal funding sources available, although depending on the type of work you want to do, parts of it may need to be funded by different sponsors in order to also abide by the various sponsor priorities. This site lists a variety of internal and external resources and databases to be aware of when looking for funding.

Develop Proposal: There are plenty of resources available to support you in developing your proposal. The most important resource is the sponsor’s own guidelines. Different proposal development or grant writing workshops are held from time to time, so keep an eye out for email notifications on these. A variety of templates (including a grant writing template) are available on the R+CP canvas website. 

Please also be aware that our Research Administrator is available to support you in creating a budget for your proposal. It is important to start working on your budget early with review by our RA, and should happen concurrently (and not after) writing your proposal narrative.

Route + Submit Proposal: All proposals to external sponsors must be routed via the U-M Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) using an electronic Proposal Approval Form (PAF). The PAF for each proposal is prepared within each unit, and then routed to ORSP. ORSP then reviews each PAF, obtains any required U-M central office endorsements/signatures/certifications, and submits the proposal to the sponsor where appropriate. To complete these tasks, ORSP requires a week (technically four (> 4) full business days) in advance of the sponsor deadline. Taubman College requires an additional (10)  business days to prepare the PAF, work with faculty on their budgets and budget justifications, and support faculty in meeting sponsor guidelines. Faculty should plan ahead to allow sufficient time to work with the RA regarding this.

Please be aware of the timeline required to process a proposal submission: please give our Taubman team 10 business days before a proposal deadline to set up the PAF, as well as a week as required by central ORSP to review and process it.

Any project with an external sponsor is based on an agreement between the sponsor and the Regents of the University of Michigan—not with individual faculty members. This means that the Regents are responsible for ensuring that a project is completed as was agreed to, and as such, all proposals to external entities must be reviewed and approved by central U-M offices. The process by which this happens is through a PAF, or Proposal Approval Form. This must be completed alongside every proposal, and our RA is available to complete this for you. As such, it is important that you make our RA aware of any proposals you are planning to submit. 

Set Up Project: Please work with our RA to set up all the necessary account short codes, and before hiring any students/temporary employees, you will need to work with HR to set that up. 

Manage Project: Once you have set up your project, you will need to effectively manage your project to meet project milestones, steadily spend down the budget, monitor subcontractors / employees / students, ensure compliance, and earn additional funding.

Close Out Project: About 4 months prior to the end of your project, you should start the process of working through your project’s close out activities. This will include compiling final reports; our RA will assist in financial reporting. As mentioned before, keep a close eye on your project budget as you close out your project.

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