Closure Report

Project Summary

This project was initiated to manage the procurement and implementation of the successfully awarded supplier following an evaluated ITT procurement process.



The University of Edinburgh currently deals with around 6,500 ethics applications every year and around 100 internal reviewers, this number does not include a handful of external reviewers. It is anticipated that this figure will rise and it should be noted that due to the increase in research projects that not every undergraduate project undergoes the ethics processes. The University lacks a single over-arching ethics management process which results in inefficient and inconsistent processes being adopted and followed throughout the organisation.

There are strong recommendations from the business community that a single research ethics system would be beneficial to the organisation, not limited to the following:

  • Implementing consistent business processes
  • Implementing an ethics approval tool for all research projects
  • Centralised reporting across all research projects within the UoE

Within the Worktribe application a simple ethics checklist exists which does provide simple compliance however it does not address wider complex institutional requirements that are required to record ethical approval for research projects or ensure adequate and auditable workflow exists for the purposes of gaining ethical approvals.

There are a number of leading tools in the marketplace, for example Infonetica's Ethics Review Manager, that will not only allow UoE to implement a single system to manage this process but a system that provides the functionality capable of meeting the complex institutional requirements.

Following the completion of the ITT evaluation, the contract has been awarded to Infonetica to work with Research Support Office, Research Information Systems and teams within Colleges to implement the Ethics Tool across the University.



The scope of this project was defined as the following:

  • Definition of the functional/business requirements for ITT
  • ITT documentation
  • Procurement exercise to acquire an ethics tool
  • Implementation of the ethics system
  • Integration of the ethics system with EASE
  • Integration of the ethics system with Worktribe
  • Testing the Ethics tool and business processes adopted by the University
  • Testing of the integration between the ethics tool, EASE and the Worktribe application


Deemed out of scope:

Following the successful ITT evaluation process, Infonetica was awarded the contract. The Project Sponsor advised that as the implementation activity was predominantly a business activity a project manager wasn’t required to manage the implementation phase of the project.

The business team were happy that this element of activity would be taken forward by themselves. Therefore the implementation phase and deliverables were descoped and an early closure of the project agreed. The only element which requires support from IS Application resource is for activity to implement SSO (Single Sign On - Shibboleth).


O2   Implementation of Ethics tool  
          D2.1   Delivery/Implementation of Ethics system RIS / RSO only
          D2.2   Complete functional testing of Ethics system RIS / RSO only
          D2.3   Complete integration/interface testing between ethics system and Worktribe     

Out of scope  

 O3   Reporting Module  
         D3.1   Delivery of reports and reporting module  RIS / RSO / Supplier Only


Objectives / Deliverables





 Procurement of an Ethics tool



  Business requirements specification


          D1.2   Procurement strategy and ITT documentation           Yes
          D1.3        Ethics tool selected  Yes
 O2   Implementation of Ethics tool  
          D2.4   Complete integration/interface testing between ethics system and EASE No, business team are not ready for this to be set up, agreement to complete as a UNIDESK Call nearing time required 



The benefits for this project are as follows:

  • Implementation of consistent ethics processes - estimated £50,000 benefit realisation over four years
  • Simplification of reporting across the University - estimated £50,000 benefit realisation over four years
  • An increase in applications handled (extending to UG projects)  will implement a more stringent and sound process

Success Criteria

  • Ethics system that meets the business requirements is successfully procured [for this project]
  • Ethics system allows simplified workflow for review and approval of applications [for business team to assess success following implementation]
  • Reporting on ethics applications is implemented and reported successfully [for business team to assess success following implementation]


Analysis of Resource Usage:

Staff Usage Estimate: 60 days

Staff Usage Actual: 60 days

Other Resource Estimate: N/A

Other Resource Actual: N/A

Other Resource Variance: N/A





Explanation for variance

The effort on the project has covered the estimate however it would be prudent to point out that the original date for the procurement to complete e.g. Terms and Conditions sign off should have complete at the end of March / early April.

Project management time to cover this extended period has consumed the effort which was aligned for SSO activity. Any effort required for this work will be covered under either RIS programme funds or via RIS support costs, not expecting effort to be more than 5 days.

Overall budget approved = 60 days

Budget year split 18/19 = 10 days  - Actual 18/19 = 7.5 days

Budget year split 19/20 = 50 days - Actual 19/20 = 52.5 days

Key Learning Points

  • Due to changes to Procurement Manager resource following initiation of project it would have been helpful to clarify and agree areas of responsibility between project manager and procurement manager as this resulted in unnecessary conflicts particularly in lead up to supplier demos
  • Partnership is key between project manager and procurement lead, it is extremely important and within Project Services we have delivered a number of successful procurements with the Procurement team over the past few years. The overall project is managed by the project manager with procurement managing their elements within the project however the overall responsibly for the project lies with the project manager and also with the programme manager to deliver for the business area as they are funding the project.

  • Defining the business requirements with the Business Team took longer than anticipated originally planned as scenarios needed to be defined to provide suppliers with additional information relating to Workflows and issuing the ITT to market took longer than planned due to finalising all of the documentation prior to publishing
  • The delay between contract award and completion of terms and conditions seemed protracted and communications from procurement manager and legal team was extremely limited and project manager had to chase for regular updates. This was not the previous experience of other procurements which Project Manager / Programme manager has managed therefore there appears to be a disengagement during this phase of the project.  For future procurement it is suggested that the communication on legal process is regularly circulated.

Outstanding Issues

  • Understanding SSO requirements for integration with EASE - as business team are managing the implementation no further effort required from project manager. SSO changes are not currently required until nearer implementation. This is not expected until August / September 2020 this year. Agreement from project team to request activity via a UNIDESK call, development technology resource have estimated effort and will have limited involvement in setting up, predominantly 3rd party. It was agreed that a mini TAD would be produced for this integration. Estimated effort for remaining activity -  2 days. Programme Manager has agreed for this to be funded at programme level to allow the project to close. Confirmation required from Dev Tech  / Prod Man that they are happy with this approach.


Project Info

Ethics Tool Procurement
Research Information Systems (RIS)
Management Office
Project Manager
Karen Stirling
Project Sponsor
Lorna Thomson
Current Stage
Project Classification
Start Date
Planning Date
Delivery Date
Close Date
Overall Priority