Project Management Tips

The project budget must match the award amount; if awarded amount is different
from proposed amount – a revised budget and Scope/Statement of Work is needed
(even if only used internally). Keep in mind that the science proposed cannot be done
for a reduced award amount.

The more detailed the budget, the more information it can provide to help keep track
of spending (see included Budget Allocation Sheet); however, changes to this detailed
budget will need to be tracked by the department; changes to individual account
codes are not done in Banner.

In contrast, Significant Rebudgeting (categorical changes of 25% or greater) will need
sponsor approval.

At the start of the project, determine who will be working on the project and at what
level of effort. With this information, be sure to process all appropriate paperwork
with HR, Payroll, and ORAF as necessary. If this new project affects the personnel of
other projects, remember to process any change requests.

This information feeds the Effort Certification process so being accurate is essential.
Also – keep in mind that our Effort Certification Reports are generated by Payroll; if
any grant personnel are expending effort on a grant project and this effort (or all of
the effort) is not being charged to the grant, the effort will need to be tracked
manually.

It’s good practice to “mentally subtract” salaries, corresponding fringe benefits and
F&A costs for the entire project year and remove these amounts from the award
amount – or use a spreadsheet for each grant award which is maintained by the
department and/or lab. Presently, the University’s financial system cannot encumber
salaries; however, you need to separate these recurring costs from the rest of the
budget using whatever tools work best for you and your unit.

The resulting balance is the funds available to finance the other costs of the project.

Charge expenses to grant as they occur; if recurring costs need to be allocated to the
project budget, do this on a regular basis (at least monthly).

Subaward invoices (if applicable) need to be reviewed and approved for payment. Is
the subawardee working towards completing the Scope of Work, are you receiving
the required deliverables, etc.

Keep in mind that invoicing or drawdowns are tied to spending.

Use the expenditures to gauge progress: is the project spending too quickly (will you
be out of funds before the next increment) or too slowly (will the sponsor think that
little/no progress is being made).

Actual expenses should be compared to budgeted expenses at least monthly to
ensure:

• Expenditures are reflective of actual work performed and the rate at
which funds are being expended (“burn rate”) is appropriate;
• You have not spent more in total funds on the project than was awarded
• Total expenditures for any cost category have not been exceeded if
restricted on the notice of grant award

No Cost Extensions (NCEs): while having funds available cannot be the justification
for a no-cost extension, the rate of expenditures can provide valuable information
regarding the status of the project and be the basis of thinking about the need to
request a no-cost extension or the development of an accelerated spending plan.

Points to Consider:

• The Recipient of the award is the University, not the individual
• NU does not directly receive the money at the time of award; we must
either invoice or drawdown the funds after we spend
• Only Grant/Contract Officers can approve and/or make changes to an
award
• Only Authorized Institutional Officials can request any changes to an
award
• The Project Budget should accurately reflect the true costs associated
with the research project
• The Project Budget needs to be in line with the goals, objectives, and
description of the research project
• The Project Budget should be the basis for managing the project
expenditures

Last Modified: October 4th, 2012