June update on the Research Costing Tool

by | May 21, 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

A second phase of User Acceptance Testing (UAT) concluded on Friday, 7 May. Our UAT testers worked tirelessly to test the fixes which have been implemented since our first UAT phase, so a big thank you to all our testers and everyone involved in the second UAT programme.

As a result, the project has identified some further improvements which need to be made within the tool. Interim Costing Processes (ICP) need to be mapped and guidance documents will be drafted to support PS and academic staff in using the tool and the ICPs for nuanced costing scenarios.

Minor bugs have been identified and logged with the developer for fixing as well as future enhancement requirements.


Forthcoming developments

  • Minor bugs to be fixed and implemented by BlackDackel
  • Workshops to verify new costing processes
  • Validation of existing pricing templates and calculations before go-live
  • Ongoing testing from project team and user cohort
  • A roadmap plotting developments and enhancements over the next six months
  • Training and guidance materials are in development


Training programme update

Essential training and guidance materials will be made available to all users. 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
  • 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
  • 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



As a response to the most recent UAT results and the revision of some processes, a ‘soft’ launch has been proposed with a planned July go-live date. This ‘soft’ launch will allow for additional processes to be implemented before go-live and provide more enhanced support for users at launch and over a longer period, allowing the project team and the BlackDackel developers to incrementally provide enhanced functionality up to project closure at the end of 2021.



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