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J Biomol Tech. 2010 September; 21(3 Suppl): S69.
PMCID: PMC2918068

Implementation of a Shared Resource Financial Management System

T. Caldwell, R. Gerlach, and M. Israel
Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH, United States



Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC), an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center at Dartmouth Medical School, administers 12 Life Sciences Shared Resources. These resources are diverse and offer multiple products and services. Previous methods for tracking resource use, billing, and financial management were time consuming, error prone and lacked appropriate financial management tools. To address these problems, we developed and implemented a web-based application with a built-in authorization system that uses Perl, ModPerl, Apache2, and Oracle as the software infrastructure. The application uses a role-based system to differentiate administrative users with those requesting services and includes many features requested by users and administrators. To begin development, we chose a resource that had an uncomplicated service, a large number of users, and required the use of all of the applications features. The Molecular Biology Core Facility at NCCC fit these requirements and was used as a model for developing and testing the application. After model development, institution wide deployment followed a three-stage process. The first stage was to interview the resource manager and staff to understand day-to-day operations. At the second stage, we generated and tested customized forms defining resource services. During the third stage, we added new resource users and administrators to the system before final deployment. Twelve months after deployment, resource administrators reported that the new system performed well for internal and external billing and tracking resource utilization. Users preferred the application's web-based system for distribution of DNA sequencing and other data. The sample tracking features have enhanced day-to-day resource operations, and an on-line scheduling module for shared instruments has proven a much-needed utility. Principal investigators now are able to restrict user spending to specific accounts and have final approval of the invoices before the billing, which has significantly reduced the number of unpaid invoices.

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