How to Fund Use of the RCD Project Tracker
One of the most common concerns we see about the RCD Project Tracker is about how to budget staff time for Project Entry and updates. We put together this quick guide to help address these questions!
How much time do I need to budget per project?
- Initially learning the Project Tracker: Budget 1-2 hours to learn how to use the Project Tracker. This time may be spent doing trainings with Project Tracker Administrators, watching videos or reading online guidance.
- Gathering data: Set aside 1 hour to gather the data needed for your Project. You may need less time if your project information is well-organized, and more time if it is scattered in many places. Grant proposals or recent invoices/reports are very helpful and often have most of the information you need.
- Entering a Project: Budget 30 minutes-1 hour when you are first learning the Project Tracker; once you become comfortable with it, this can be reduced to 15-30 minutes per project. This time should include both gathering the necessary information and actually entering data into the system.
- Updating Projects: Ongoing projects should be updated once per year with the latest financial information and performance measures. Gathering the necessary information and entering updates can be estimated to take 10-30 minutes per project per year.
2. How do I bill staff time spent entering projects?
The time spent entering a project can be billed to the funding grant(s). There are two main ways that RCDs can bill staff time for project entry to a grant:
- Direct Billing: This is the preferred method for most RCDs. Most RCDs bill their staff time using Project Tracker as a direct cost to enter in data to the Project Tracker or to contribute to the ongoing maintenance and improvement of the Project Tracker. Make sure to budget time for the initial project entry, and for subsequent updates (see Question 1). For example, Gold Ridge RCD includes staff time for entering and updating projects in the tracker under a “Project Management”, “Outreach” or “Administration” task.
- Indirect Billing: You could also include it as an indirect cost. Most RCDs try to lower or limit their indirect costs, but, if the preference was for indirect, it could be considered a subscription or administrative cost.
3. How do I help pay for Project Tracker maintenance and improvements?
- First, we want to emphasize that RCDs are not obligated to pay for the Project Tracker in order to use it! The RCD Project Tracker is free to use for all RCDs.
- That being said, if you have found value in the Project Tracker and want to support its continued growth, you can do so using the methods discussed in the question above. This money goes toward:
- Paying the annual hosting and maintenance fees
- Funding new features and improvements
- Funding staff time to administer and provide support and outreach
- You can bill funds to support the Project Tracker similarly to how you bill any other software license or subscription.
- One option is to bill a proportion of the subscription cost as a direct cost for any grant that you plan to enter into the Project Tracker.
- For reference, a summary of estimated annual costs to run the RCD Project Tracker is included below. The annual maintenance costs vary primarily based on how much we invest in providing support for and adding new features to the Project Tracker.
Low Annual Estimate - Maintenance only
High Annual Estimate - Maintenance and extensive support, new development
Monthly, across 30 RCDs
Monthly, across 50 RCDs
Created by Jenna Kahn and Gold Ridge RCD; Last updated June 28, 2022