March update on the Research Costing Tool Project

by | Feb 19, 2021 | Costing, Projects | 0 comments

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. A product called BlackDackel, a web-based tool will be implemented at The University of Manchester.  

Project update 

Users Acceptance Testing (UAT) concluded on Friday, 12 February. Testers were assigned with functional and scenario based test scripts and were able to test the system and feed into enhancements as well as highlight defects. Testers included Research Services and Academic staff to ensure our main user base were involved in the testing process. The project team is very grateful to the testers for their involvement and would like to thank them for their time and enthusiasm. Their feedback has been invaluable to the progression of the project.    

Forthcoming developments 

  • Defects highlighted in UAT are being assessed by the developers and will be resolved before go-live
  • Feedback from the user experience during UAT is also being considered and where suitable, will be incorporated into the system before go-live
  • An additional focused UAT will be completed to test all fixes to the system before go-live
  • New webpages will support the launch of the new costing tool and will provide users with a hub to find information and support

Training programme update 

As we draw closer to our launch date, essential training and guidance materials will be made available to all users. Draft guidance material disseminated to UAT testers and the project team have taken on their feedback and will be enhancing these for go-live. Leading up to go-live, a suite of training items will be made available to users. The training programme will include: 

  • Overhaul of the costing tool webpages which will provide user pathways providing focused guidance and training information to user cohorts
  • PDF training documents concentrating on focused areas of the costing tool
  • Complimentary training videos which work alongside PDF documents  
  • Links to University policies and corresponding guidance documents
  • FAQ providing links to policies, processes and request forms
  • Glossary to explain new costing terms to users
  • Drop-in training sessions for all user cohorts before go-live
  • Open communication channels to ask questions and seek support 


Launch remains to be as planned for April 2021. The project team is working tirelessly to get everything in place for this launch. External factors such as REF and the Easter break play a part in the launch planning, however, we are working closely with teams to ensure we can provide a co-ordinated launch with no impact on other services.  


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