Endless Possibilities: The New OVCRE R&E Enterprise System

Have you ever wondered how many research projects in UPLB are on coconuts? Have you ever thought how many projects have been produced as publications or implemented as extension activities?

Or perhaps you might have asked, how many projects are supported by a certain funding agency? How many PhD holders are leading research and extension activities?

These, and more questions, are now being answered by the new OVCRE R&E Enterprise System or OVCRE-REES.

Data divided, united

OVCRE-REES started the same way as any other data management system – using humble spreadsheets. Studies, basic details of projects, as well as related documents and involved personnel, are submitted and recorded as required by either the university or the funding agency. Research projects soon needed to be grouped and monitored based on the funding they received, thereby requiring the staff-in-charge to maintain separate files matching these classifications.

As the research culture flourished in UPLB, the data grew with it, and so is the number of personnel necessary to handle it. It did not take long to realize the need for unifying these files into a central repository. We needed to put in place an efficient system to record and keep track of the growing data about the university’s research and extension activities. And thus, the central repository called Integrated Research Information System or IRIS was born.

An MS Access database developed and launched in 1999, IRIS allows multiple access at the same time, keeping research information synchronized for the staff.

Building the information management system

Since one of OVCRE’s mandates is to coordinate the development of staff involved in research and public service, it is equally important to provide them their own and easily accessible information system.

However, integrating this new set of information proved too much for an MS Access database – it began to slow down and, ironically, became almost inaccessible.

This led to the development of the OVCRE Integrated Research Information Management System or IRIMS, designed and developed by Czarlina May Magnata and Eriberto Roxas, Jr.

Through its subsystem called REPS Information Management System or RIMS, research project data can now be linked to the respective research, extension, and personnel staff (REPS) of the university.

Data from RIMS can paint a whole picture of the research personnel’s service.

Just like the research information, personnel employment history, education history, workload, and project involvements are now regularly updated through a nifty web application securely accessible anywhere with an Internet connection.

The act of linking research data to personnel data opens an entirely new world of possibilities as to what you can learn from the university’s research endeavors.

Strictly within compliance of the Data Privacy Act of 2012, IRIMS enabled OVCRE to immediately cater to data requests from UPLB constituents and partner agencies. Since its initial launching in 2016, UPLB has pioneered in having an active research information management system among CUs, enabling the quick provision of consolidated data upon request.

Future-proofing UPLB through an enterprise system

Aside from research, data from IRIMS also gave birth to other systems such as the UPLB Document Tracking System or DocTrax, OVCRE Early Warning System or EWS, and OVCRE Inventory Management System or IMS.

DocTrax started out as a way to track documents – which are mostly in IRIMS – as they traverse the hands of OVCRE staff. Users outside OVCRE can now check the status of their documents anytime and anywhere, as long as they have the tracking I.D. Currently, it is deployed to the executive offices of the university and will be gradually rolled out to all UPLB offices this 2021.

On the other hand, EWS generates regular reports from IRIMS. At present, it automatically notifies OVCRE staff about REPS and faculty who will be retiring within a year. It also reminds them of pending documents per section, as well as the duration it takes to process each document.

IMS, meanwhile, records all supplies and equipment that are under care of OVCRE staff. It provides the status, property number, unit price, and date acquired of the supplies, making it easier for the office to keep track of all its properties. It has the potential to cater the whole university as well, in terms of systematically managing UPLB-owned properties.

In the pipeline

Like a space station, one can attach additional modules that benefit from what is already in the system and give it additional functionalities in return. A possibility for the system to manage data of administrative personnel is also being explored. The upcoming faculty information management system initiated by the UPLB Graduate School can be linked as well.

In the future, collaborators can easily pull and analyze data relevant to the three-fold function of the university -- instruction, research, and public service.

Undeniably, this system is not just for research project data anymore. Henceforth, OVCRE decided to rebrand this as the OVCRE R&E Enterprise System.

The system that humbly started out in the late 90s as a tool to manage data within a particular UPLB office is now continuously evolving to cater to the needs of the whole university. Additional systems are set for deployment this year as well.

The Online REPS Portal, for one, will be a place for REPS to submit their workload requirements online. This should provide ease for evaluating REPS Service Records.

The ability to notify personnel eligible for promotion and awards, along with the accessibility of data regarding publications and paper presentations – which are submitted through the workload – are also welcome side effects of this online portal.

Collaborations with the UPLB Foundation, Inc., and the UPLB Accounting Office are being planned to provide them custom views of the financial data of research projects.

These will come after the development of full finance capabilities of the Project Monitoring System, and a possible venture on cloud computing.

The possibilities for the OVCRE R&E Enterprise System are truly endless. As long as there are questions in need of answers, the system will be there.

With these advancements within our reach, OVCRE hopes to uphold the vision of a future-proof UPLB.

This article was published in RDE Digest Volume 13 No. 1.