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In the spotlight: background information, news and announcements about the project Financial project management.

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What does a 4-year trainee research assistant’s position cost? How much money is available for purchasing equipment or publishing research results? These and many other questions can arise when the project plan is being converted into the required project budget. A budgeting module has now been developed to make the process of setting a project budget as efficient as possible.

The budgeting module allows the project control support staff to easily calculate the project budget for several common grant applications. Each organisation’s preferences and requirements have been incorporated in the module during its development. One example of this is a budget summary for researchers. Both the grant contribution and Leiden University’s own contribution (where relevant) are automatically shown in the project budget. Handy options from various Excel budget formats that were used within the University have been combined in the module, which greatly improves efficiency. On top of that, the budgeting module also saves time because the project budget is automatically displayed in the funding organisation’s format (for the Dutch Research Council (NWO) Innovational Research Incentives Scheme and EU ERC).

From the academic year 2021-2022, the budgeting module is the standard format within the University for setting project budgets for NWO, EU and Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) grants. On September 10 a new version of the module is supplied to the project control support staff.

The budgeting module has the following advantages:

  • Efficiency has been greatly improved by combining handy options from various budget formats;
  • The HR costs for common grants, such as NWO, EU and RVO, are automatically calculated at the current rates (based on stated FTE/scales/period);
  • A summarised budget overview is available for researchers (in the new update from September);
  • The project budget is automatically displayed in the funding organisation’s format (NWO Innovational Research Incentives Scheme/EU ERC).;
  • Together with the grant contributions from external funding organisations, Leiden University’s own contributions (where relevant) are automatically shown.

Researchers who wish to set a project budget are welcome to contact the project control support staff within their own faculty/unit.

How do you persuade and activate a colleague to sort out the time sheets? Or instil information about laws and regulations relating to research projects, and the responsibilities they involve? The Influencing in one day training course gave 19 participants a better understanding of how to increase their influence. The course was provided by Schouten & Nelissen for the Leiden Research Support (LRS) programme.

Influencing

Influencing is a process that involves steering things where you want them to go without using force. You set in motion a change in the other person’s views or behaviour. This is usually an unconscious process, but the more conscious you are of this process, the better you can use your influencing skills to your advantage. As a member of the research support team (in financial or other areas), it’s important to provide guidance in managing the project portfolio. A necessary element here is activating your colleagues. While this might be quite easy for the start-up of a project, for example, it can be quite a challenge for other issues, such as compliance with mandatory guidelines.

Push and pull processes

Influencing occurs in many different situations, consciously or not. A good example is when you introduce yourself. In a first interview, you make deliberate choices about what information you include and how you convey it. You can also add some small pointers during the interview, for instance about what motivates you, to make your message more attractive to the listener. But along with the message itself, your voice and non-verbal communication are also important factors in creating the total impression. A further distinction can be made in terms of which ‘power’ (influencing strategy) you use: your intellectual power (reasoning), will power (encouraging), emotional power (investigating) or belief power (inspiring). These four strategies form the basis of the push and pull processes that together comprise influencing.

Online influencing

Now that we’re mainly working online, and often from home, using the four influencing strategies requires extra attention. For example, the position of your camera, the background that other people see and your internet connection. The participants explored the various challenges that arise with an online meeting.

Quote from a participant: “There’s a lot on offer in the candy store called influencing. Looking at your work in this way is an inspiration for me, and I go back to it every time life starts to feel complicated.”

Practising in practical situations

During the training course, the participants went into separate breakout rooms to practise their use of the various influencing strategies. They were given specific practical examples that allowed them to immediately apply the theory in this test environment. Switching between playing the role of influencer, recipient and observer, they gained more insight into the effect of using influencing strategies in practical situations. At the end of the course, the participants were given the assignment to use the various strategies in practice. A follow-up session will be held, where they will discuss their findings.

Would you like to know more about influencing?

You can take a free online training course (in Dutch) about influencing via the University. The course is provided by New Heroes and you can start immediately, using your own ULCN account to log in.

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