Despite the pandemic, the opportunities for institutions to advance their missions haven’t gone away. The federal government and philanthropic institutions are still requesting grant applications. Similarly, researchers are still looking for other scholars to partner with on groundbreaking scholarship.
So, how can institutions most effectively compete for these opportunities while grappling with the costs and circumstances of COVID-19?
One competitive advantage institutions can gain is so simple that many organizations overlook it: operational innovation.
What are the flexible and varied uses of the right faculty activity reporting system?
In fact, according to research in the Harvard Business Review, although many organizations undervalue operations, when companies such as Dell, Toyota, and Walmart focused on operational innovation, it drove their exponential growth and success.
We were reminded of the importance of operational innovation during a recent webinar we hosted with guests from the University of Wyoming and Winthrop University.
Both of these institutions adopted the Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting (FAR) module, moving to a focused, faculty-centric, cloud-based platform that powers reporting, CVs, grant applications, and more.
This operational transformation has enabled these universities to more effectively pursue funding opportunities and facilitate collaboration.
In addition, the online Interfolio platform creates time-saving efficiencies and allows these universities to continue faculty activity reporting while working remotely during the pandemic.
Below we share the details of how these institutions used operational innovation to their advantage.
Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting makes it easier to pursue funding
For the University of Wyoming (UW), securing funding has high stakes. As the only four-year institution in Wyoming, UW Faculty Affairs Specialist Aneesa McDonald said on the Interfolio webinar, the university has a “high responsibility to the state to produce graduates, grad students, and scholarship that benefit our communities.”
To fulfill this responsibility, the University needs funding from the Wyoming State Legislature and relies on Interfolio FAR to present a detailed picture to legislators of UW’s value to communities.
“With FAR, we’re able to pull a report and say, ‘Look, our faculty did this many presentations in your community, or our extension educators were able to do this within your county,’” Aneesa explained. “So that really helps when we go to the state for additional funding.”
Interfolio also makes it easier for scholars to apply for grants because the Faculty Activity Reporting module generates faculty CVs or biosketches that researchers use for their grant applications.
The Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module helps researchers discover potential collaborators
Winning grant funding can sometimes depend on putting together an interdisciplinary team of scholars to tackle a multi-faceted problem. That’s why Interfolio also makes it easier for faculty to discover collaborators through a keyword search.
“It’s a great way to promote cross-collaboration,” said Interfolio Sales Engineer Kafui Dzaka on the webinar.
Interfolio Account Manager Lori Nealy echoed the value of this functionality. “We all know that collaborating on research is phenomenal in getting funding to your campus,” she pointed out.
The Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module enables efficiencies that free up time for research and higher-level work
The operational innovation that Interfolio enables not only helps with funding efforts, but also saves time for both administrators and faculty.
While this efficiency may seem only like a nice-to-have benefit, saved time can be devoted to teaching, research, and other activities that potentially generate revenue.
In this way, efficiency around academic data management is a critical competitive advantage for colleges and universities.
The ability to carry out work processes efficiently was what drew Winthrop University to Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting.
Brian Hipp, Director of Business Intelligence and Data Management at Winthrop University, said that the Faculty Activity Reporting module’s efficient digital workflows distinguished it from competing solutions.
“The biggest benefit we noticed in evaluating the product was the ability to create digital workflows within [Interfolio] Faculty Activity Reporting rather than saving a document to a computer and then sending a separate email every time you needed someone to work on it,” Brian said.
The digital, cloud-based Interfolio FAR platform has proved particularly critical during the pandemic, enabling UW and Winthrop faculty and administrators to input data and generate reports while working remotely.
Of course, efficiency makes a difference to colleges and universities even when they are not in the midst of a pandemic.
Before Wyoming adopted Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting, gathering faculty activity data to present to the University’s Board of Trustees took Aneesa months of work. But with Interfolio, faculty entered the data easily, and Aneesa needed only a couple of weeks to analyze the data and create her presentation.
Brian added that “the ability of deans and department chairs to create bulk reports for all of their faculty has saved them time as well.” Faculty affairs administrators, in other words, aren’t the only ones who save time across campus.
Likewise, at Wyoming, the College of Engineering and the College of Business used Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting to create reports for their accreditation review. “They can’t believe how easy and quick it is for them,” Aneesa said. “Before, it would take months to gather that much data.”
Check out how the Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting module works in action
If you’re interested in learning more about Interfolio Faculty Activity Reporting, you can watch the webinar here. You’ll get a live demonstration of the platform, and learn more about how the FAR module integrates with other Interfolio modules, ORCID, and external data sources, such as Google Scholar and PubMed.
If you’re really curious about how a scholar-friendly, online faculty information system would support and track faculty work at your university, schedule a demo here.
How can faculty data contribute to institutional success?
“A strong data governance, collection, and analytics function is critical to institutions of higher education.”
Read more in our white paper, “Data in Faculty Affairs: How Modern Universities Can Get the Most out of Tracking Data.”