April update on the Research Costing Tool

by | Mar 25, 2021 | Costing, Projects | 0 comments

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

As a result of additional User Acceptance Testing (UAT) feedback following on the February UAT period, the project team has been in contact with stakeholders to improve functionality and outputs in the systems. These enhancements include the creation of additional bespoke Pricing Templates and the development of improved funder reports. These areas are currently going through an initial validation process ready for a second UAT assessment.



Forthcoming developments

  • The production area of BlackDackel has been launched an ongoing testing is taking place in this version.
  • Second UAT programme in development. This will include the testing of fixes from the first round of UAT.
  • FAQs and a terminology glossary are in development and will be available on the updated costing tool webpages before launch.
  • Creation of training videos are in development.


Training programme update

As we draw closer to our launch date, a suite of training items and guidance materials will be made available to all 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
  • BlackDackel User Manual
  • 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
  • FAQs 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



We previously communicated that launch was planned for April 2021. Although the project team have worked tirelessly to get everything in place, various factors such as REF, the Easter break and project team resource have had an impact on delivery. We have now revised our timeline to a May/June 2021 launch. While this is later than we originally planned, the project team are working closely with various parts of the University to ensure we can provide a co-ordinated launch.



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