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CERES Launches Successfully

On Monday, April 24, at 8:30am, Northwestern’s new electronic grants and agreements system, CERES, went live for the university research community. This go-live moment marked the culmination of a year-and-a-half-long partnership between Northwestern Sponsored Research and Northwestern Information Technology to implement a new enterprise sponsored research administration management system and to deliver a revamped analytics environment. Delivered on-time and within budget, CERES has been operational with minimal downtime since going live, and the project team has transitioned to system stabilization and providing ongoing staff/faculty support.

A Look Back

In Fall 2021, the Sponsored Research Administration Transformation Program (SRATP) began work towards replacing the university’s existing grants and agreements system, InfoEd, with an implementation of Huron Grants and Agreements. It is worth revisiting the steady and deliberate progress that yielded the successful launch of CERES:

  • Fall 2021: SRATP initiated; Project advisory committees established; onboarding begins
  • Spring 2022: Design, build, and test iterations begin along with project workgroup meetings; The Name Our System contest yields “CERES (Central Electronic REsearch System) as the name for the university’s implementation of Huron Grants and Agreements.
  • Summer 2022: The implementation team completes Agreements design sessions, IRB and IACUC integration development, and HR integration preliminary testing. CERES core concepts training begins.
  • Fall 2022: Change Network established
  • Winter 2023: End-to-end testing and Change Agent training
  • Spring 2023: Cutover preparation and departmental training
  • April 24, 2023: CERES goes live!

 Looking Ahead

In the four (4) weeks since CERES has been live, the Northwestern research enterprise has returned to normal levels of proposal, award, and agreements activity with:

  • 380+ funding proposals in progress
  • 210+ new funding proposal submissions
  • ~440 new agreements submitted
  • ~800 award modifications

 As with any major system implementation, CERES was not immune to post-launch system issues, but those reported have been relatively minor, and the Northwestern team in collaboration with Huron Consulting have been quickly addressing outstanding items: about 1/3 of issues discovered and enhancement requests have been fixed or added to production, and more than 2/3 of requests are targeted to be complete in production before the end of May.  Additional fixes and enhancements, including Maximus, LawGeex, and Federal Demonstration Project (FDP) integration work, will continue during an ongoing enhancements engagement with Huron.

Congratulations to the project team and thank you to the entire research community for making this transition a success!