Research costing tool: How will it help me?

by | Sep 19, 2019 | Costing, In focus, Projects | 0 comments

We spoke to the research costing tool project team to find out about the new costing tool for research and how it will benefit researchers and research services staff.


Can you tell us a little bit about the research costing tool project?

The research costing tool project aims to improve the University’s ability to accurately cost research activity and will allow staff to model costs throughout the lifecycle of a research project. In the scoping phase of the Research Lifecycle Programme (RLP), staff said that the current costing tool was not adequate and did not live up to how the University sees research and research support for the future.

The project is focused on delivering a new costing tool along with training, information and guidance for researchers and research services staff. The project will also deliver additional modelling capabilities, redesign of existing workflows as well as incorporating new costing processes.

After a successful procurement process utilising user requirements, we have identified a supplier called BlackDackel to develop the costing tool with us. BlackDackel have experience working with other University products (eg Elsevier). The University of Manchester, along with Queens University Belfast, will be the first to use the tool, giving us the opportunity to make it bespoke to our needs. The tool is planned to be rolled out in 2020.


How will the research costing tool benefit a researcher at the University?

Currently, researchers don’t have access to the costing tool, so the new costing tool will be their first opportunity to access this information. This new access will enable researchers to model their own costings. The detailed costing process will continue to be supported by experienced research services staff however the new tool will provide researchers with greater visibility of the costing process.


And how will the research costing tool benefit research services staff?

Research services staff will benefit from improved costing functionality, streamlined workflows and improved integration with existing software. Improvements to the approvals process will provide staff with transparency throughout the workflow and improved reporting will support staff with funder applications.


What opportunities will there be for people to get involved or engage with the project?

We want to hear from researchers and research services staff about what they want to see in the costing tool. The tool is for the research community, not for us! We welcome people’s feedback and ideas so we can make sure it is right for the research community’s requirements.

You can get involved in a number of ways:

  • Researchers can volunteer to be an academic representative on the research costing tool project board. You would be expected to attend a monthly 1 hour meeting and act in an advisory role for potential changes and decisions.
  • Researchers and research services staff can join our ‘user groups’, to give feedback on the design and to feed into the validation of new and existing workflows with the tool.
  • We hope to hold an open session soon for all staff to come along and find out more about the research costing tool. Keep an eye on the RLP newsletter or the events page at


To get involved in the project or find out more, contact


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