Faqs

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a series of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for the Costing and Pricing Module (CPM) available on the Development and Training Gateway:

For Frequently Asked Questions and Answers related to the pFACT costing software please refer to the following.

 

General pFACT FAQs

A1 Do I have to be registered to have access to pFACT?

Yes, all users must be registered to use pFACT. Note - only staff involved in the costing of research projects should have access to pFACT.

Heads of Department were asked to specify personnel within their Departments who should have access to pFACT. If your name was put forward, you should have received an email informing you of your username and password for the system. If you have not received this email, ask your Head of Department to write to pfact@strath.ac.uk giving permission for you to be registered to use the system. The following details should be included in the e-mail:

    1. Subject Line: pFACT Account Not Received Yet .
    2. Message: Your Name, Faculty, Department, DS user ID and email address.

If your name was not originally put forward but it has now been decided that you will require access to pFACT, ask your Head of Department to write to pfact@strath.ac.uk giving permission for you to be registered to use the system. The following details should be included in the e-mail:

    1. Subject Line: New Account .
    2. Message: Your Name, Faculty, Department, DS user ID and email address.

Please note that there may be a short delay to granting access if we need to verify with your Department / Faculty that you are to be given a pFACT account.

A2 Who do I contact if I have questions about pFACT or need some help in using pFACT?

If you have any queries regarding the use of or access to pFACT, contact pfact@strath.ac.uk .

If you have any queries regarding the pFACT training, contact

ittraining@learningservices.strath.ac.uk .

A3 Do I still need to complete a Project Costing and Approval Form?

pFACT is designed to replace the Project Costing and Approval Form for all projects costed on a Full Economic Costing basis. From September 2005, all research projects at Strathclyde must be costed according to fEC. Therefore, all research applications must be submitted using pFACT. From 1 st June 2006, the University will no longer accept costings for research projects via the Project Costing and Approval Form.

At the time of pFACT's launch, Consultancy and Other Services Rendered activity is not being costed on a Full Economic Costing basis. Consultancy and OSR activity will therefore continue to use Project Costing and Approval Form. This is the current status and is subject to review. Contact Research and Knowledge Exchange Services for an update on this decision.

A4 Do I have to use pFACT?

Yes. From 1 st June 2006 the costing of all externally funded research activity has to be done using pFACT. Ideally all applications for funding must quote the pFACT reference number. Those applying to Research Councils using Je-S should put the pFACT Reference Number in the 'RO ID' field on the Project Details screen. Other applications should either include it in an email or else write it on the paperwork.

A5 Do I have to use pFACT for Research Council applications if I am using Je-S?

Yes, you need to create a costing in pFACT as you would do for all research projects. All costs should be added, including workspells for all those working on the project (including all academic staff) as well as all equipment/consumables/travel etc. pFACT will also calculate the fEC related costs (Indirect costs and Estates Charges) which you will need for the Research Council application.

Research Councils have stated that, at present, they will pay 80% of the fEC. To see the contribution to costs (and the resultant deficit), you should choose the 80% fEC Income Template via the 'Funder' hyperlink.

When the costing has been approved by RKES you can input the figures into the Je-S form. NOTE that the Research Council funding guidelines state that the costs should be submitted exclusive of inflation. pFACT will provide the figures you need for Je-S in the form of a Je-S Submission Report. You can access the report by clicking on the 'submission reports' command button from the Project Proposal Summary Screen, choosing the 'income report by year' and then adding the start date of the project. Please note that pFACT re-calculates all the figures from scratch to maximize accuracy so the report may take a few seconds to appear.

Je-S operates the JNCHS pay scales. These pay scales differ slightly to those used at Strathclyde. If you choose to use the JNCHS pay scales to calculate staff costs within Je-S you may find that the figures vary slightly from those calculated by pFACT.

When adding Directly Incurred Technicians into Je-S, we recommend that you do not use the JNCHES scale as Strathclyde's costs are higher than those held within Je-S. Instead you should insert the Technician's salary information as calculated using pFACT.  Directly Allocated Technicians should be added to Je-S in the usual manner: Other Directly Allocated Costs / Project Specific Costs - again inserting the salary information as calculated using pFACT.

Those applying to Research Councils using Je-S should put the pFACT Reference Number in the 'RO ID' field on the Project Details screen.

A6 I have forgotten my pFACT username and password. What should I do?

Your pFACT username has been set up to reflect your DS username and DS password (account used to log into PEGASUS or NEMO). If you have forgotten your password, you should contact the IT Helpdesk.  

A7 The pFACT website asks me to choose between pFACT 'Train' and pFACT 'Live'. What's the difference between the two?

The University has set up two versions of pFACT:

  • pFACT TRAIN is available for initial training purposes and also to allow users to 'have a play' or practice preparing costings. Users can create and delete costings, add and remove staff or equipment and generally get accustomed to using the system. All the fEC rates, pay scales etc are kept up to date and the calculations are accurate. However, TRAIN does not contain any real departments or staff details. This system will continue to be maintained and available to staff but all real costings must be prepared in the 'Live' system. User details for TRAIN (username and password) will be issued when you attend a training session - see below for details
  • pFACT LIVE should be used for preparing all real costings and includes an automated authorisation process. User details for LIVE will be issued by e-mail to all registered users.

A8 How do I enter a KTP project into pFACT?

Costing of KTP projects in pFACT is completed by Elaine Wallace in the KTP centre. If you have a KTP project, please contact the KTP centre, Tel 0141 548 4442.

A9 I would like some help in learning to use pFACT. Who should I contact?

Learning Services is offering training sessions to support the rollout of pFACT. Places can be booked by emailing ittraining@learningservices.strath.ac.uk . For details of the dates of training sessions please refer to the pFACT section of the fEC web pages ( www.strath.ac.uk/fec ).

User manuals will be issued at the training sessions or are available on request from Learning Services.  

 

Technical FAQs

B1 pFACT is not appearing when I enter the web address https://pfact.strath.ac.uk . What should I do?

If you are experiencing difficulty with your web browser, please contact the IT help desk: helpdesk@strath.ac.uk (0141 548 4000)

B2 pFACT is running really slowly today. What should I do?

If you are experiencing a change in pFACT's operating speed, please contact the IT help desk: helpdesk@strath.ac.uk (0141 548 4000)

B3 I have received an error message which says that I cannot connect to the database. What should I do?

If you receive error messages suggesting that the link to the pFACT database is disconnected, please contact the IT help desk: helpdesk@strath.ac.uk (0141 548 4000)

B4 I have my username and password but I can't get logged in. What should I do ?

If you click the button and you don't get a Data Protection disclaimer onscreen for you to accept/decline please contact the IT help desk: helpdesk@strath.ac.uk (0141 548 4000).

B5 Which web-browsers work with pFACT?

We recommend that you use one of the following browsers with pFACT and that you enable javascript and cookies :

  • a. Internet Explorer 6 or above*
  • b. Mozilla 1.6 or above
  • c. Firefox 0.9 or above
  • d. Safari 1.1 or above
  • e. Netscape 7.1 or above

* Internet Explorer 6 SP2 is the browser currently recommended and supported by IT Services. Firefox is recommended for Mac users.  Although you may be able to use other browsers to access pFACT some features may not work and we cannot provide support if you experience difficulties.

B6 pFACT is telling me that I have been 'timed out'. What does this mean?

pFACT will automatically log you out of the system after periods of inactivity. To reactivate, press the 'logout' hyperlink at the left-hand side or refresh the web address. If you continue to experience problems, please contact the pFACT support desk: pfact@strath.ac.uk .

Creating projects in pFACT

C1 I can't find the funder on any of the dropdown lists. What do I do?

If the funder you wish to apply to is not listed within pFACT, please send an email to pfact@strath.ac.uk asking for the funder to be added. When you send the request, it would be helpful if you are also able to tell us what sort of funder they are ( UK industry, UK Government, UK charity, European, Overseas, Scottish, SME).

C2 I am working with another Faculty or Department within the University. Do we create more than one costing?

No. A project involving more than one Faculty or Department at Strathclyde University should be created in pFACT once only . The collaborating department should be identified in the pFACT costing (Step 2 of the Initial 5 Step Project Set Up). It is suggested that the costing is drafted, checked and approved by the lead Department , though it may be appropriate for staff in the collaborating department(s) to confirm their acceptance of the figures.

C3 I am working on a joint collaboration project with another University. How do I calculate their costs? How do they get mine?

All institutions have different Indirect Costs and Estates Charges. It is therefore the responsibility of the investigators to calculate their own costs. By creating a costing within pFACT you will be able to extract the figures you need to pass to your collaborator(s).

Likewise, if you are the lead applicant, your collaborators will have to supply their information to you. The total costs for collaborators should be entered into pFACT as a subcontract/3 rd party cost. See question C4 on how to enter subcontract costs into pFACT.

Please note that the EPSRC electronic submission system (Je-S) now has the facility to link projects. In this way, each institution submits their own costs for their contribution to the collaborative project.

C4 Part of the proposed work will be subcontracted to a third party? How do I enter this information into pFACT?

The subcontract cost should be entered into the non-staff section of pFACT using the Add new item not in the list option. The details should then be entered as in the example below choosing 'subcontract/ 3 party exp'. Please remember to include VAT on the subcontract cost if applicable.

subcontract cos 2

C5 I want to add some non-financial information to the costing. Where can I put it ?

The non-financial information required by the University (previously completed in the Project Costing and Approval Form) is requested via the Command button: Additional Fields . This section must be completed before forwarding the costing for approval.

If you wish to add further information, there is a 'notes' facility - available via the ''Notes' Command button. Here you can add and edit any additional information you want to include with the costing figures.

There is also an opportunity to add text on the change status' screen in case you want to bring a particular issue or item to the attention of the person(s) checking and approving the costing.

C6 There are a couple of places where text can be added for colleagues and for reference (in the 'NOTES' command button and in the 'CHANGE STATUS' facility). Who can view these notes?

Potentially, all pFACT users who have view/edit access to your project will be able to read the text.  This includes the Principal Investigator, Co-investigators, Head of Dept, Departmental Administrators, Research & Knowledge Exchange Services, Finance and Senior Officers (Faculty Dean, Vice Dean).

Costing projects in pFACT (on fEC basis)

D1 How do I estimate academic time? Are there any guidelines or recommended amounts?

The calculations in pFACT are based on 7.5 hours a day, 37.5 hours a week, 44 weeks a year, making a total of 1650 working hours a year (or 220 days). These reflect the fEC Guidelines for costing.

Detailed information on how to calculate Principal- or Co-Investigator time is provided in Section 7.1 of the User Manual.

D2 What does 'banding' mean and where do I find Strathclyde's banding points ?

Due to the concern expressed by the academic community about fellow academics and peer reviewers being able to determine salary information, Strathclyde is BANDING its academic staff to single points for Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Readers and Professors. This effectively anonymises the information. Information on the banded rates is available from the Finance website, together with other fEC-related material, at www.strath.ac.uk/fec

D3 The funder has requested that my salary is based on 'actual' cost, not banded salary. What should I do?

The university policy is to use banded salaries for all academic staff and banded salaries should always be used for Research Council applications. However, we understand that in some instances, such as Research Fellowships or Research Leave schemes, it is important to reflect the 'actual' cost of the academic time being 'bought out'.

Staff within RKES can convert the banded salary into the actual salary cost. You should complete the pFACT costing based on banded salary information. Once the project has been forwarded by your HoD to RKES, they will make the necessary adjustment. pFACT will then show the actual cost of your time to be submitted to the funder.

D4 How do I include a Visiting Academic on my pFACT project?

For visiting academics who are being paid a fee you should select Use Staff Not in the List in the Staff Costs section, untick the Use Pay Scale option and enter the amount to be paid. You should also enter the appropriate FTE for fEC in relation to the amount of time they will work on the project.

For visiting academics who are not being paid by the University see question D10 below.

D5 How do I cost for a technician or other support staff ?

If you plan to recruit new technical or support staff, the associated salary costs should be costed as Directly Incurred Staff costs and included in pFACT using the 'Add Staff Not on List' option.

If you plan to use established staff, a detailed note of how to cost technicians and/or other support staff is available on the Finance/fEC website at www.strath.ac.uk/fec .

When adding Directly Incurred Technicians into Je-S, we recommend that you do not use the JNCHES scale as Strathclyde's costs are higher than those held within Je-S.  .  Instead you should insert the Technician's salary information as calculated using pFACT.  Directly Allocated Technicians should be added to Je-S in the usual manner: Other Directly Allocated Costs / Project Specific Costs - again inserting the salary information as calculated using pFACT.

D6 What do I need to know when costing a student ?

The Research Councils quote annual costs for postgraduate studentship fees and maintenance/stipend. The standard fee for the period 2005/06, for example, is £3,085 and the standard maintenance/stipend is £12,000. Studentships should be costed at the annual amount for fees and maintenance/stipend for the duration of the project. Under the new fEC rules Supervision time should not be charged to Research Council projects.

In pFACT, the student stipend/maintenance and the annual fee should be added in the 'Staff Cost' section. This is a two step process and involves selecting the appropriate single spine 'pay scale' for stipend/maintenance and then repeating the process for the annual fee.

If the studentship is being funded by a Research Council, you should use the rates automatically held within pFACT as shown below. Note that this example is for a project starting in 2006/07 so the inflated rates are shown within the Spine Point.

when costing a student 4  

when costing a student 6

If you are costing the studentship at figures other than the Research Council rates, you should calculate the total fees and total maintenance/stipend cost for the duration of the project (including inflation as appropriate) and enter these in the Staff Costs section using the 'Add Staff Not on List' option. The examples below show the total fee and the total stipend for a 3-year studentship funded by industry. For both entries you must 'untick' the Use Pay scale option.

total fee and the total stipend for a 3-year studentship funded by industry 8

total fee and the total stipend for a 3-year studentship funded by industry 10

D7 I cannot find the names of my co-investigators in pFACT. How can I add them to the project?

All staff on relevant grades who are currently on the payroll at Strathclyde University should be listed on pFACT. If you cannot find a specific member of staff whom you know is employed by the University, please contact the pFACT support desk: pfact@strath.ac.uk .

If you wish to add staff that are not yet on the payroll, you can do so within the Staff Cost section by Adding Staff not on list.

D8 What should I charge for use of University equipment or facilities? How do they relate to the fEC rates ?

The costs of running some of the large pieces of equipment and facilities at the University are already included in the fEC rates (called 'Estates' and 'Indirect') at the moment. If you were accustomed to charging funders for use of such equipment/facilities then you should continue to do so. If you did not charge for such equipment/facilities then you do not need to cost them again as they are already included in the fEC rates.

Over time major research facilities and equipment (over £250k) should be taken out of these rates and be costed separately. The Finance Office will be carrying out an exercise during 2006 to identify any such costs. Such changes can only be implemented on the 1 st Feb each year. After this date the rates are fixed for another 12 months. You will be informed if there are to be any changes to the treatment of equipment/facilities. For an update, please check the Finance/fEC website: www.strath.ac.uk/fec .

D9 pFACT asks me to describe the VAT and inflation rules for all non-staff costs? How do I know what to include?

You will find guidance on the treatment of VAT and Inflation in the relevant sections of the user manual.

D10 What if I want to include Estates and Indirect costs to a staff costing that wouldn't under normal rules attract them?

Instances may arise whereby the staff working on a project are not members of University staff but will be working on University premises in order to deliver the project to the funder. Examples may include:

  • NHS and other staff being paid by their employer but using University premises to conduct the research
  • Retired Academic staff who are contributing their time to the project and based on University premises
  • Visiting research or academic staff being paid by their own employer but working on a research project during their visit.

In these cases, pFACT must note the time to be spent on the project as a direct cost of £0.00 but with the time included in the fEC FTE (the multiplier for the fEC costs). To do this you need to

  • A Add a new post to the costing via the 'Add new staff not in list' link and attach the 'Zero Salary Pay Scale' to this post, and
  • B Add a work spell for this new post.

include Estates and Indirect costs to a staff costing

include Estates and Indirect costs to a staff costing

Now when you go back to the Costing Summary screen the fEC related costs will recalculate to include this additional FTE.

D11a pFACT calculates everything in sterling but I want to prepare an application in Euros. How do I do this ?

Click the 'currency' button and choose from the available currencies (currently Euros, US Dollars and Singaporean Dollars). The costing will continue to be calculated and shown in sterling. If you look at any of the reports the figures are presented in the appropriate currency.

D11b  How and when are the currency rates up-dated?

The currency rates in pFACT are updated centrally by the Finance Office at the beginning of each month.  When the currency option is chosen the latest exchange rate will be applied.

D12 What is an Income Template? What do they do?

Income Templates represent 'price' calculations where the funder has specified particular funding rules. Examples and explanation of the Income Templates set up within pFACT are as follows:

100% fEC

This Income Template will provide a 'price' to the funder equivalent to 100% fEC on all itemized costs at 100%. This Income Template is applicable for funders such as some Government Departments and, in some cases, Industry.

80% fEC

This Income Template will provide a 'price' to the funder equivalent to 80% fEC on all itemized costs at 80%. This Income Template is applicable for funders such as Research Councils, NHS or the Chief Scientist's Office. Note that the Funder information which has been set up in pFACT will also take account of any exceptional items (e.g. for Research Council's the balance of equipment over £50k and any student costs will be funded at 100%)

Direct Costs, including inflation

This Income Template will calculate the 'price' based on Direct Costs only, thereby excluding established staff time to be spent on projects and excluding Indirect Costs and Estates Charges. This Income Template is applicable to Charities and other funders who pay direct costs only.

Direct Costs, excluding inflation.

This Income Template calculates the 'price' as above (excluding established staff time, Indirect Costs and Estates Charges) and also exclusive of inflation. This Income Template is applicable for funders such as Cancer Research UK who request that the price is quoted at Year 1 rates; with the 'price' for future years being requested via the annual grant renewal.

Direct Costs, including PI time.

This Income Template calculates the 'price' by including Direct Costs AND academic staff time, but excluding Indirect Costs and Estates Charges. This Income Template is applicable for charitable funders who agree to pay towards research management time and for charities that pay for academic research leave or research fellowships.

Fixed Fee

This Income Template simply 'prices' the project at the proposed fee or fee specified by the funder. This Income Template should be used in instances where the 'price' does not follow any of the standard formula described above.

Select Income Template

Please seek RKES advice before using. This template allows selected costs to be funded at particular rates as specified by the funder (eg 50% Academic costs, 100% Researcher costs etc).

When using an Income Template, please check the Funder Guidelines carefully. If you are aware of other commonly used pricing formula that could be incorporated into pFACT, please send your suggestions to pfact@strath.ac.uk .

If your particular project generally follows one of the above templates but with some minor exceptions please let RKES staff know so that this can be taken into account prior to final approval.

D13 What happens when I use the 'Change Start Date' function?  Does pFACT change the 'rate on date' too? 

The 'Change Start Date' command button is a useful and efficient way of updating the fEC of the project, to reflect a new time period. By changing the proposed start date, pFACT cascades this revised date across all workspells and recalculates the cost accordingly.

If the cost of a non-staff item had been set with a particular 'rate-on-date', this date will be held by pFACT even when the start date has been changed. This is because it reflects the date at which the item was costed / quoted and pFACT will apply inflation from that date, irrespective of the start date of the project.

D14 When adding a staff workspell to a project, pFACT offers  several options including 'days', 'hours', 'months', 'fte annum', 'hrs/week'.  Which ones should be used and how do they work? ;

There are various means by which to identify the time to be worked on a project by each member of staff.  pFACT calculates each one in accordance with the equivalent hours across a working year (1,650) but offers various input option to make it easier for the user.

When choosing 'hours', 'days' or 'months', this refers to the number of hours, days or months to be worked across teh lifetime of the project (not per annum).

The option 'fte annum' relates to the full time equivalent per annum across the lifetime of the proejct.  A full time member of staff, for example, is 100% and this should be entered as a 'unit' of '1' in pFACT. A proportion of a full time member of staff (eg 50%) should be entered as a fraction of 1 (eg 0.5).

Full Economic Costing queries

E1 Where can I find out more information about Full Economic Costing?

More detailed information on Full Economic Costing, including how to calculate staff time, Estates Charges and Indirect Costs plus some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) can be found on the University's Full Economic Costing website .

Further information can be found at:

Authorising Projects in pFACT

F1        How do I submit a pFACT costing for Head of Department Approval?

pFACT includes an electronic authorisation process.  To submit your application for HoD approval, follow the stages outlined below:

  • from the Project Summary Screen, select the CHANGE STATUS button
  • select the Add button '+'
  • Indicate 'Target Date'
  • Identify 'Submitted To' (choose the name of your HoD from the list)*
  • Add a note/message if required (optional)
  • Press SAVE button
  • Ensure that the email tick list contains the name of the person who should approve your project*.  Add further email recipients as required.
  • Press SEND button
  • Press CLOSE button

*If the HoD is the Principal Investigator, pFACT should be submitted to the Dean for approval.

Further details are available in the User Manual page 40

F2        I am a Head of Department and have been notified of a pFACT costing to approve.  How do I submit a pFACT costing for RKES Approval?

To submit an application for RKES approval, follow the stages outlined below:

  • from the Project Summary Screen, select the CHANGE STATUS button
  • select the Add button '+'
  • Indicate 'Target Date'
  • Identify 'Submitted To' (choose the top entry *RKES Approver)
  • Add a note/message if required (optional)
  • Press SAVE button
  • Ensure that the email tick list contains the *RKES Approver email, plus the PI and the HoD.  Add further email recipients as required.
  • Press SEND button
  • Press CLOSE button

Further details are available in the User Manual page 40