Cut Review Time by 10% & 10 Hours a Week: A Ball State University Case Study

12/04/2018

Ball State University’s Sponsored Projects Administration and Submittable

Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) at Ball State University awards grants to students and faculty members that fund research, creative pursuits, and academic scholarship. Submittable is used by SPA to comprehensively manage the submission and review process for its Aspire Internal Grants Programs and several internal competitions.

Supporting Student and Faculty Development

SPA is a robust office, distributing roughly $400,000 per year to faculty and students through internal grants. Last fiscal year, SPA received 305 applications, made 232 internal awards, and included over 50 individuals in its panel review process.

Until 2017, the team used a single, centralized email account to receive grant applications across categories via attachments (ranging from a single document to nearly 50 documents per applicant, depending on the competition). Each review process involved multiple rounds of sorting, downloading, compiling, and uploading, as well as a final meeting often necessitated by errors and missing reviews.

Eliminating Busywork

Ball State’s Office of Immersive Learning was already using Submittable for its own internal grants competition and suggested the software to SPA Director Justin Miller, who immediately appreciated how simple it was to create a form and facilitate reviews. “Submittable has definitely helped us save time,” he says. “Because of the easier review process, we’ve actually been able to shorten or eliminate in-person review sessions.”

In addition to cutting review time down by at least 10 percent, switching to Submittable saved the office’s student employee around 10 hours per week previously spent on manual processes related to SPA grants. Miller has even modified what used to be a staggered competition timeline because the team can now handle more simultaneous submission volume.

Cultivating Quality and a Better Reviewer Experience

“For us, using Submittable is as feel good as it is time saving,” Miller says. “Whereas reviewing used to seem cumbersome, from a qualitative perspective, the reviewers really enjoy the process now.” Miller and his team also like the ease with which they can ensure submitted proposals are compliant (by using mandatory fields) and reviews are completed, all in one place.

Because SPA’s grant applications span a variety of disciplines, Submittable’s ability to accept and natively view 50+ file types is essential. The capability to imbed a custom table is also important for the team to ensure budget spreadsheets arrive in a standard format. Not to mention that what Justin calls “this monster of a cover sheet” SPA used to require is now a simple series of fields in the application form. From start to finish, Submittable has simplified and improved SPA’s internal grants process, an award system that serves to improve opportunities for many at Ball State University.