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How the Nutrition Research Institute at UNC Got More Efficient with Workflow Automation

Blog: BP Logix Blog

Scientific research requires a complex web of documents, processes, approvals, and reviews, and to keep things on track. To support all of that work also requires that back-end functions like finance and accounting be efficient. That’s why many research-based organizations turn to Process Director from BP Logix as a way to create, deliver, and adapt their operational processes. Being able to put move quickly enabled the Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill – (UNC) to be agile in the face of sweeping changes from COVID-19.

UNC is home to a wide array of research centers and laboratories conducting leading-edge projects to deliver scientific progress. NRI is among those, and is an internationally recognized facility that conducts innovative studies relating to how differences in requirements and responses to diet affect our individual nutritional needs. Their research has led to successes in preventing or mitigating the negative effects of chronic diseases and aging, as well as in improving human development, even prior to conception.

To keep the engine of innovation humming at NRI requires the work of an entire organization — HR, Finance, IT, and other departments that must be effective at their tasks to enable NRI-based research to become usable. When COVID-19 hit earlier this year, all these groups within NRI had to retool their processes and workflows in order to maintain continuity. 

Included in this transformation effort were adapting to new procedures and policies for managing operational and HR expenses. Especially pressing for the NRI operations and administrative teams was the need to modify existing forms for reimbursement, invoices, and purchase orders related to COVID-19. These are expenditures that hadn’t been planned for prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and it was critical to track them because these expenses translate to research dollars lost. The institute had to be able to deliver accurate and timely reports on the financial impact of the pandemic to university, state, and federal sponsors that support its research.

Speed and accuracy were essential requirements. Process Director helped them code expenses quickly on the front-end which saved the NRI finance team approximately 100 hours in following up with their laboratories and doing retro campus journals to code the expenses as COVID-19 after the fact.

In our recent webinar, Eduardo Serrano, Deputy Director of Research Business and Operations at NRI walked attendees through their experience implementing workflows using a low-code approach. Joined by Dave Kieffer, Vice President of Research and Large Enterprise Systems at the Tambellini Group, these two experts explain how NRI used Process Director to rapidly implement change, with adherence to specific requirements, and without requiring expensive custom software development. Specifically, it covers:

We encourage you to learn more about workflow automation for higher education and to check back here for an upcoming whitepaper. 

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