Reporting to the Director, Grants and Research Operations, the Associate Director, Research Systems (‘the Associate Director’) is a key member of the Vice-Principal Research portfolio (‘Portfolio’) leadership team and is responsible for the planning, management and sustainment of a hub of digital research service systems aligning with the operational mandate, customer service objectives and strategic priorities of the Portfolio. The Associate Director brings a forward-thinking, strategic approach to process improvement and project management, and acts as a subject matter expert in optimizing effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity of research systems. This includes platforms supporting research operations, administration and compliance policy and process (e.g., Tools for Research at Queen’s), enabling research networking and promotion (e.g., Research Discovery Network), as well as other online tools catalyzing the impact of research at Queen’s.
The Associate Director takes a leadership role in analyzing, interpreting and evaluating business needs, and recommends strategies to enhance and sustain research services at Queen’s. The Associate Director works collaboratively with Portfolio managers, as well as with other units supporting research services at Queen’s, e.g., Centre of Advanced Computing, Research Accounting, affiliated hospitals, Queen’s Libraries and ITS, to lead implementation, outreach and training activities related to the sustainment and evolution of resources, procedures and practices required to maintain progressive, effective and efficient digital research services solutions. The incumbent manages a dynamic team of Research Services personnel, organizes and leads internal committees supporting collaboration among research services stakeholders, and represents the institution in meetings with external partners.
Research Systems Management
• Evaluate business and strategic needs of the research portfolio, and provide guidance, expertise and recommendations to senior managers within research services departments on technological solutions in relation to current and future-state research services, processes and emerging trends.
• Lead the development, sustainment, and improvement of all elements of the digital research services hub; understand, streamline and integrate procedural and policy driven requirements from institutional and external stakeholders into strategic recommendations, and project and process management decisions.
• Manage the monitoring, measurement and review of research systems performance, audit current processes, identify gaps and/or redundancies, manage risks and resolve problems to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Coordinate end user consultations and feedback initiatives to assess system acceptance and end user satisfaction.
• Provide leadership on inter-departmental operations committees; escalating issues to the Director (or appropriate Delegate) as needed.
• Develop and maintain close working relationships with colleagues internal (e.g., Institutional Programs, Grants, Research Ethics Compliance, Research Contracts Unit) and external (ITS, Research Accounting, affiliated hospitals, Library) to the Portfolio to support communication, change management, and training efforts related to research services systems.
• Maintain and leverage networks of colleagues in similar roles at other institutions; draw on knowledge gained from a collaborative community of practice when making system and process management decisions for the Queen’s research environment and digital research services system.
• Working with Business Owners, subject experts and research service administrative personnel, oversee the development, delivery, review and renewal of resources and training programs designed to support end users and customer support aspects of research systems. Defines and documents business processes and procedures.
• Support the research data and reporting needs of the Portfolio and Institution; recommend system improvements to keep track of evolving data needs for internal and external compliance and/or reporting requirements.
• Provide process and change management leadership, including the management of integration and data sharing processes implemented between research and other systems, and during research system upgrades. Responsible for all supporting project plans, schedules, budgets and deliverables including supporting change management strategies.
• In collaboration with system stakeholders, e.g., ITS, Financial Services and HR, manage system administration, including administrative data, user profiles and access, and cybersecurity related requirements; make recommendations and support best practices on technical feasibility and risk assessment procedures.
• Develop recommendations on project scope, cost and scheduling, providing input on budget administration and staffing requirements required for sustainment of the digital hub of research services.
• Define and direct comprehensive system and process troubleshooting and employ effective strategies to ensure functionality, performance and operating efficiency requirements are met. Oversee coordination, execution and implementation of system upgrades and process improvements; including but not limited to coordinating test environment access and activity with solution specific experts, training of the system functions during upgrades and enhancements (as necessary), scheduling and reporting; liaise with the vendor, as needed.
• As needed, provide second level support for research services, and occasionally after-hours customer and system support for emergency contact and to support the team during any significant deadlines, incidents, upgrades or project implementations.
Human Resources Management
• Plan, prioritize and manage the work of employees for research system customer support (help desks) and research operations, providing strategic and tactical advice, guidance and coaching. Identify need for personnel resources, participate on staffing committees, and make effective recommendations regarding employee selection.
• Manage performance by establishing standards, reviewing and evaluating performance and conduct formal performance reviews on an ongoing basis.
• Assess personnel training and development needs, and ensure employees receive training required to improve and sustain successful performance to meet their role specific responsibilities.
• Investigate, address, and resolve employee/labour relation issues, including disciplinary matters. Make decisions or effective recommendations on matters involving possible discipline, discharge and probationary termination.
• Promote a culture of inclusion, with a commitment to the university’s equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion initiatives designed to foster an inclusive, supportive, and welcoming work environment for all individuals.
• University degree; with a concentration in information systems management is considered an asset.
• Five or more years of experience in project management leadership roles, and managing enterprise or departmental administrative information systems for a large, complex portfolio with diverse stakeholders.
• Advanced experience and knowledge of university research administration policies and procedures, and government reporting regulations in the Canadian funding and compliance landscape.
• Proven business and systems integration knowledge, with high level technical competency in administrative and technological systems to support a collaborative and compliant research environment.
• Experience in gathering, documenting, and analyzing business processes and policies.
• Excellent oral and written communication and interpersonal skills, and experience in team building and management, including the confidence, tact, discretion and judgment to work effectively with academic researchers, senior administrators and staff colleagues.
• Experience managing staff and integrating equity, diversity and inclusivity principles into the development and delivery of mentorship, project and process management and training initiatives.
• Consideration may be given to an equivalent combination of education and experience.
• High level of organizational, administrative, project facilitation and management skills with a demonstrated ability to meet deadlines, motivate and lead others to meet operational objectives in a collaborative and fast-paced client-oriented environment
• Change management and strong business acumen; sustains a strong customer service perspective.
• Strong analytical and problem-solving skills with an ability to compile, synthesize and interpret relevant information from a wide variety of sources, with an ability to pay exceptional attention to details.
• Experience and knowledge of emerging trends, thinking several steps ahead in deciding the best course of current/future actions and in the development of strategic and operational recommendations.
• Executes proposed actions within predetermined timelines against organizational goals and with consideration to the competitive landscape in which the department/organization operates. Strong planning skills to develop and integrate departmental plans to achieve the overall organization goals.
• Strength in exercising appropriate critical thinking abilities to proactively manage and/or mitigate known risks and identify new issues that could arise. Flexibility, initiative, and resourcefulness to develop creative ideas that provide solutions to a variety of workplace challenges.
• Well-developed and proven investigative and analytical skills to identify and address problems with initiative and horizontal collaboration; focuses on results and desired outcomes and how best to achieve them while maintaining consideration of organizational priorities and objectives.
• Interpersonal skills to work collaboratively with a wide variety of stakeholders, and manage a team in a fast-paced and dynamic work environment.
• Exhibits mutual respect and sensitivity to working with diverse stakeholders, and an ability to interpret and respond to their diverse needs.
• Demonstrates an ongoing commitment to learning and self-improvement to enhance the performance of the team.
• Determine best practices to streamline and increase efficiency, effectiveness, responsiveness and accountability of research processes and practices, and make decisions on appropriate changes. Lead cross-functional teams in system/process review and the identification of solutions, negotiating agreement among stakeholders, and resolving conflict.
• Assesses appropriate alignment of technical solutions relative to functional requirements, conformance to organizational standards, and ability to integrate within Queen’s existing IT architecture.
• Determines development and support requirements, contributes to the development of strategic plans and objectives, and participate in budget planning and decision‐making as a member of the broader VPR Leadership Team.
• When making system changes, understand the impact to all functions and users within the system.
• Decide when to escalate decisions, challenges or unresolved issues to the Director and/or other senior leaders.
• Set priorities and oversee workload of personnel, including determining required training and communications.
• Determine strategies for training research community members (faculty, staff) in the administration and use of digital research systems.
• Evaluate, recommend, and offer expert advice on the development and implementation of technological or process related improvements, integrations and initiatives.
• Determine analysis required to provide appropriate advice to the Director and other senior leaders on operational research planning issues.
• Assess how to accurately capture, analyze, and report business requirements, test plans, and processes.
• Determine when to advise the Director of a situation that might impact negatively or positively on the university and formulate recommendations for mitigation or pursuing an opportunity.
• Evaluates employee performance and decides on appropriate training or coaching to address lack of proficiency in carrying out responsibilities, or remedial action for staff disciplinary situations.
• Assesses investigation outcome of grievances and makes effective recommendations on appropriate course of action or next steps on grievances.
• Makes effective recommendations on level of discipline up to discharge and probationary termination.
• Evaluates job candidates and makes effective recommendations on suitable hires.
• Makes decisions and/or effective recommendations regarding transfers and promotions.
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