Project FAQs

What is AURA?

  • Automating University-wide Research Administration (AURA) is an electronic research administrative system which facilitates research administration activities for the University of Chicago.

Why is AURA important?

  • The AURA system allows department research administrators, faculty, and URA to transparently create proposals submissions and manage award information. It streamlines and automates research administration, allowing for process automation, electronic routing and approval, system-to-system submission to Grants.gov, and data warehouse reporting.

What is AURA Grants?

  • AURA Grants is the online module utilized by departmental research administrators and faculty to create proposals, route for approvals, and submit electronically to sponsors.  AURA Grants is considered the institutional source of record for grant information but contains no financial expenditure data.

Why is the AURA Grants software upgrade happening?

  • AURA Grants is transitioning to an updated platform because the current system sits on old software that will no longer be supported by the vendor. Upgrading will allow the University to have better reporting capabilities for sponsored proposals and awards and will allow us to make use of new updates and features as they are made available.

When will the updated AURA Grants launch?

  • The updated AURA Grants software is scheduled to launch starting April 15, 2019.  On this date, users will notice that the software has been upgraded when they login to the system.  All proposals in the stat of Pending Sponsor Response and beyond will be available in the new system and all existing awards can be accessed in the upgraded system.  While the current version of the software will no longer be available to initiate activities, the current/legacy system will remain available for reference purposes only.

How will my user experience change with the upgraded system?

  • Users will see changes in terminology, and the workflow for proposals will have some variation from the current version.  URA will offer multiple training opportunities and resource documents to aid with education on changes between the current and updated versions of the system.

What will happen to grants that are mid-process?

  • Any proposal that is at the state of “Pending Sponsor Response” or beyond will be migrated to the updated version of the software.  This includes all existing awards.

What steps can I take to ensure that no information is lost in the transition?

  • There has been significant proactive effort by the Vendor, ITS, Data and URA teams to ensure that data migration is accurate.  Data migration will continue to be monitored throughout migration and go-live of the updated system. If you have any questions or concerns, please email researchadmininput@uchicago.edu.

What are the major changes occurring with the AURA Grants upgrade?

  • The most significant changes to the updated AURA Grants system are that proposals will exist separately from award records (all information exists under one record today). Additionally, the University will have the opportunity to have a “one to many” relationship for proposals to awards and vice versa. This means that one proposal may have multiple awards associated with it, which is functionality that does not currently exist.  New functionality will allow for better workload reporting for both URA and the department research administrators.

What are the benefits of the updated AURA Grants system?

  • The upgraded version of AURA Grants has many benefits including setting up the grant portfolio for a smooth transition into a new financial system when that time comes.  There will be increased reporting capabilities with the new system, including the ability to report on outgoing subawards.  The software update also has its own outgoing subaward module which will aid with increased transparency on those activities.

How/When will training on the updated system occur?

  • Instructor led training for campus will begin in March and there will be multiple sessions to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to prepare. This training will be delivered by URA and all grant administrators should plan to attend at least one training session. The training calendar will be made available in early March and attendees will be required to sign-up for training sessions to ensure course availability.  URA is also preparing reference documents that illustrate the differences between the legacy and updated software, job aids, and other training materials that will be housed on the URA website.

What can I do now to prepare?

  • Grant administrators will want to ensure all urgent proposals and award requests are routed through AURA Grants to URA for processing prior to conversion.  No proposals in the state of “Proposal Development” will be migrated to the updated system.  All proposals must be routed to “Pending Sponsor Response” status in order to be migrated.  URA highly encourages administrators to route all items prior to April 9; however, if you have something due between April 11-16, please work with your URA Research Administrator to devise a plan for routing and submission.  If you have additional questions, please email researchadmininput@uchicago.edu.

What will happen if I miss the deadline?

  • If you have a proposal in the process of development that cannot be submitted prior to April 12 at 5pm, you will be required to recreate the proposal in the new version of the software. URA highly encourages administrators to route all items prior to April 9; however, if you have something due between April 11-16, please work with your URA Research Administrator to devise a plan for routing and submission.

How long does the migration take?

  • Migration will take place over the weekend of April 12-14.

Will my existing security accesses change?

  • The existing security model will be used in the new system as well and your existing access will be maintained. This means no passwords or log-ins will change.  

How will faculty members be impacted?

  • Faculty interaction with the system will remain largely unchanged. Any changes that impact faculty will be communicated and addressed in faculty-focused informational materials. These will be provided by URA and posted to the URA website in March.

How will this affect reporting?

  • The Business Intelligence team within IT Services worked with URA and departmental stakeholders to identify the 20 most utilized reports that incorporate AURA data.  All of these reports are being rebuilt and will access a new data warehouse to compile them.  The most utilized reports will be available one day after launch and will provide some additional functionality and graphs that are not available in current reports. Reports not frequently used, may become available after go-live of the new software.  If you have a specific need, please contact aura-help@uchicago.edu.

Will my existing reports still work?

  • Existing reports will still run, pulling data from the existing data warehouse. Users will need to utilize the new reports to access data from the upgraded AURA Grants system.

Can I access the current system after the launch?

  • After the launch of the updated AURA Grants system, the legacy system will remain available to all users in a “view/reference” capacity. Users will not be able to make modifications to any existing records in the legacy system once the upgraded one has been launched. 

Will I lose my data or reports?

  • No data or reports will be lost as part of this transition.  It is highly encouraged that all pending proposals are routed to Pending Sponsor Response by April 9.  However, URA understands that there are some deadlines falling on or near the go-live date of April 15.  Please work closely with your Pre-Award Manager for any submissions due between April 11 – April 16 to devise a plan of submission.  The current software will remain available until 5pm on April 11.  Any pending proposal not submitted at that point in time will need to be recreated in the new system.  There will be no overlap of functional systems, but all data from the current system will be available in a “view/reference” capacity.

Is this part of the Financial Accounting System (FAS)?

  • AURA is a separate system from FAS and data does not interface between the two systems.  AURA includes award information, but does not include the financial expenditure data which is housed in FAS. 

Where can I find more information?

  • More information will be posted to the URA website soon. In the meantime, and for any additional questions you have, please feel free to email researchadmininput@uchicago.edu.