A milestone for UGA’s research enterprise was reached this spring with the complete implementation of ANOPS, a comprehensive electronic animal resources management system.
ANOPS is a web-based animal resources management solution that integrates and streamlines business processes for animal resource operations, including animal ordering and imports, animal transfers and transports, census management, bar code scanning, invoicing and billing, and researcher profile management. The implementation of ANOPS fosters the collection of data that helps drive informed decisions regarding the operation of University Research Animal Resources, according to Chris King, associate vice president for research.
“I’m very pleased we’ve got a product that the animal resources folks can depend on,” he said. “It will streamline their work and make the data reliable, actionable and accurate.”
ANOPS is the latest step in the adoption of electronic research administration, a long-term goal of the Office of Research, which began with the implementation of the Grants Portal, followed by a software solution for handling and reviewing of Human Subjects protocols. A system for managing Biosafety protocols is now being developed and tested.
The initial launch of ANOPS emphasized core activities and the collection and curation of data. Already, efforts are underway to improve it through the enhancement and expansion of existing functional areas, addition of new functionality, and utilization of collected data that will inform management decisions, according to King.
“Right now we can’t open up a dashboard and say, ‘We have 50% capacity in this room—we can put more mouse boxes in there,’” he said. “We actually have to go into the room and count the number of, say, mouse boxes. We want to get to the point where the data will allow us to do drill-down management.”
There is no off-the-shelf IT solution that provides the desired functionality, so Gary Rachel, director of IT Operations for the Office of Research, led the customization of the software, guided by stakeholder input.
“There was a lot of input from URAR staff as far as what the business processes needed to be. We then had to take those inputs and put in the effort until it got to where it needed to be,” he said. “I appreciate the confidence that Vice President for Research David Lee and Chris King showed by allowing us to put in the time required to do the job.”
Chris Carter, technology coordinator for the Office of Research Integrity & Safety, provided invaluable support during the implementation process, according to King.
M.A. McCrackin arrived at UGA in December 2019 and has watched the Office of Research information technology team, ORIS, URAR and investigatory teams work together to develop ANOPs, which has about 1,200 users on campus including researchers, graduate students, lab staff and URAR staff.
“It has been impressive to see the professionalism of the teams and their success at identifying and solving problems to the point that we have a working system that facilitates the research of our investigators and strengthens URAR’s operational infrastructure,” said McCrackin, director of URAR.
The goal has always been to make the process as easy for faculty and staff as possible, and the next phase of ANOPS improvement will continue to refine the product, according to Rachel. “Software is never done. Compliance requirements change, and business requirements evolve,” he said. “The application is very stable, provides good data and allows URAR users to get done what they need to get their work done, but there are always ways to make that better.”