NERC is the UK’s main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences.
Director of Finance and Information Systems at NERC, David Bloomer, told CBR that the company needed to change the way projects were managed. We are a multi-site organisation, it’s not simply people sat in an office, he said. NERC and its scientists are very project-driven. We try to prove something and then move on. We needed a sea change to bring the organisation back together and promote collaboration between sites.
Bloomer says Compuware’s Changepoint has not replaced an old system, as projects used to be managed manually. It used to be controlled on spreadsheets and Microsoft Access databases; it was basically a list of people who were involved in the project. It was state of the art when I joined the company, but there was no sophistication to the system, he said.
After a successful trial involving 250 people across three sites, NERC launched a full-scale roll out. Bloomer said Changepoint now tracks 1,300 projects costing around £230m, handles around 250 logins per day and supports around 1,400 users.
Changepoint has enabled NERC to manage every step of a project’s life, from proposal to budget generation and the approval process. Once project authorisation has been granted the system can identify and allocate resources. When a project gets underway Changepoint can help users to record time spent, which will help NERC keep track of progress and financially accountability.
Bloomer said: Scientists do not like keeping records, formal reports or anything like that; it’s not in their makeup. Previously they would have to scroll through lists to find the project and people associated with it, now all the relevant information can be found with a couple of clicks.
NERC has plans to use Changepoint in the British Geological Survey and is also set to trial the system in parts of the British Antarctic Survey.