Note on full versions of FP7_eTool_v4. You can download 2 passwordfree zip files either for Office 2002 or for Office 2007.
(ii) The tool can help understand what information the coordinators are asking for, as well as when and why they require it. A well informed participant can become a member of the project core group and participate in the project proposal preparation. The time spared by consortium partners can be used to improve the proposal quality. Moreover, the officers at universities and research institutes can use the tool to familiarize themselves with the overall scope of the proposal preparation process. As a result, they will be able to provide better support to project proposers and to follow international grants with greater understanding.
(iii) The FP7_eTool is programmed for 10 Work Packages and 16 participants. It consists of two documents linked together, namely the Excel “Master” document and the document Word, the Part B project template as “slave”.
(iv) The preparation of the project proposal takes usually several months and a lot of people are involved in it. The overall number of documents and e-mails produced or exchanged can reach several thousands. The FP7_eTool can be used to monitor the proposal preparation history. It is sufficient to save and timestamp the project proposal, from time to time, using the FP7_eTool.
2. Excel File
(i) Main purpose of the Excel workbook is to provide the entry for data of different type and origin. Some data originate from participants or are obtained during the project proposal preparation itself. The data are combined together, sometimes recalculated, and then transferred to other sheets of the workbook or to the document Word Part B_eTool. Such practice saves a lot of time. The project proposal is edited many times, especially at the start of the preparation.
(ii) The workbook’s sheet setup order follows the general schedule of the proposal preparation process and the structure of the document Word Part B. It starts with the call for project proposal and ends with the uploading of the project proposal to the Electronic Proposal Submission System (EPSS)..
(iii) The first workbook sheet “Index” describes the purpose and properties of the Excel sheets. The next 25 sheets are marked by green color and serve as data inputs for participants and the project structure description. Another 16 sheets denoted by gray color are used for data recalculations and transformations into tables and figures needed in the document Word Part B and EPSS. The last 12 Excel sheets are marked by yellow color and exemplify "How to prepare the EU FP7 project proposal".
(iv) The ordinary Excel tools as Copy, Edit, Insert, Paste, Paste Special, Linking, Rows/Columns Hide/Show, Data Sorting, Track Change etc. are used throughout the workbook. Macros are not used here, so anybody can follow and/or modify the Excel workbook content and structure.
3. Document Word
(i) The structure and content of the document Word PartB_eTool is based on the document PartB template. These templates are available at the EPSS server of CORDIS or at the Annex 4 of the Guide for Applicants. It is suitable to rename the document Word according to the project acronym.
(ii) The document Part B_eTool contains a lot of tables, text and figures that are linked to the Excel workbook; see Excel sheet „Part B“. Therefore, if you open the document Word you are prompted to agree with the update of links. Normally, your answer is YES, but you can also refuse and update particular links later (e.g. by clicking the menu key „F9“ at the keyboard).
(iii) If you wish to remove or replace the linked table or figure, select „Edit/Linking/ Delete linking“ from the menu. Then you can introduce another text at the same place as described in the Excel sheets.
(iv) The original guidelines that appear in the template are marked by green color and my notes by yellow color. As the text of all recommendations should be frequently compared with the text of the proposal, it is suitable to retain the notes during the proposal preparation period and to remove them just before the distillation of the document Word to the PDF file.
4. Consortium build-up
(i) The build-up of the consortium is a complex task and various formal or informal methods can be applied. Only brief notes are introduced below as the detailed description of the subject is beyond the scope of the text.
(ii) Generally speaking, the first formal contacts with potential core group participants should start when the first drafts of the project abstract, objectives, Work Package titles, the project duration, number of participants and budget costs are available.
(iii) A selection of proper participants is a time consuming process and can incorporate a lot of cost bargaining. The coordinator needs to have information like (a) brief scientific CV of the participant and basic description of its organization, (b) number of staff involved, (c) Person months and budget costs for work performed, (d) data about subcontracts, durable equipment purchase, special travel needs etc.
coordinator has to select a proper participant from several candidates. In fact,
he has to make his own “cost vs. benefit analysis” and compare the cost of the
participation with the candidate’s potential contribution
5. Project Structure
(i) The FP7 cooperative projects can last from 2 to 5 years. The projects consist of several Work Packages (WPs) and their Tasks. There exist four types of WPs, namely RTD, DEM, MGT and OTH, as specified in the Excel sheet “Activities”.
(ii) It is very difficult to express the project idea and its objectives in a structured form. The Excel sheet “PrStructure” is the template for the project proposal preparation. It is set up for 16 participants, 10 Work Packages and 10 Tasks per each particular WP. The full size of the table is 123 rows and 89 columns for the project duration of 60 months. Many individual cells of this sheet are linked with cells of budgets of individual participants, in Excel sheets “P1-P16”.
(iii) It is usual practice to reserve the last WP for Management and the second to last WP for Dissemination and Exploitation. The other WPs and Tasks and their setup and structure depend on the project proposal objectives.
(iv) In the middle part of the sheet “PrStructure” there are columns prepared for the Gantt chart preparation. In order to be able to see the missing months use the tool “Format/Column/Show”. The different techniques of the Gantt chart preparation are described also at the Excel part „Example“.
6. Project Financing and Person Months
(i) The rules of financing of the FP7 project proposals are complex. The percentages of the project support depends (a) on the type of the project activity, namely RTD, DEM, MGT and OTH, (b) on the type of the consortium partner (University and other non-profit research organizations, SMEs and “big industry”), (c) on the type of country of the participants origin (EU members + Associated Countries or International Cooperation Partner Countries (ICPC)) and (d) on the cost category (direct and indirect costs). The Excel sheet “Consortium” contains columns for input of information mentioned above.
(ii) The calls for proposals often present the limits of the Commission contribution to 3 or 6 millions of EUR for “Small or Large Collaborative Projects” funding schemes. As a result, it is difficult to prepare the budget because the cost calculations have to be repeated several times to reach the required value. At any case, the coordinator should know the cost of the project in detail in order to offer “reasonable money” for a well defined amount of work.
(iii) The individual cost items in the budget sheets “P1 to P16” include personnel costs, travel, consumables, durable equipment depreciation, subcontracting, certificate on financial statement (audit) and indirect costs. To speed up the budget preparation, the coordinator can propose a certain limit for each participant. The participant can then adjust his budget accordingly.
(iv) The participant should complete sheets „P1 to P16“ and „Consortium“. It can be done in a regime of the sharing of Excel files. It means that the coordinator will send to the participants „shared“ Excel files, the participants will fill several sheets and return the Excel file back to the coordinator. The coordinator will then incorporate the files from participants into his „master“ Excel file in an automatic way.
(v) If the duration of the project is long-lasting, the increase of salaries and the change of the exchange rate of the domestic currency vs. Euro should be taken into account. For example, see the Excel sheet “CZK”. The combined effects can be introduced as the salary rise coefficient in the sheet “Consortium”.
(vi) The final budget data calculated in sheets “P1 to P16” are presented in the table Form A3.1. The individual tables are then summed up in the sheet “Fill_A3.1”. The coordinator will introduce the values from Fill_A3.1 one by one right on the server EPSS.
(vii) The sheet “Budget” is presented also in a graphical form „BudgetGraph“. A special situation refers to 3 participants of the International Cooperation Partner Countries (ICPC), see Excel sheet „Consortium“. The ICPC partners can decide whether to use the usual or the lump sum model of the financing. Their funding depends on the number of the “research years” and on the figure EUR/researcher/year.
(i) The communication among the partners depends on many circumstances. The most important ones are “whether the participants of the consortium know each other from previous joint work” and “how many days are available for the proposal preparation till the deadline”.
(ii) The time duration between call and deadline is usually 4 months. The management of the proposal preparation can have different forms. Information can flow from the coordinator to WP Leaders and from them to individual participants and back. The other possibility is the open exchange of information among all partners. More information about it is at both my ICETA 2007 and 2008 conference presentations.
(iii) There should be defined rules relating to the exchange of letters, e-mails, documents for editing, the ways of distributing voluminous files, using the ftp server or internal web pages etc.The frequent problems with researchers travelling outside the country can be solved by resending e-mails to the deputies or secretaries.
(iv) Sometimes, the partners have to treat the problem of the financing of the proposal preparation. The cost 31 900 EUR mentioned at Excel sheets “Example” is not chargeable to the Commission. Usually, the work has the character of the “in kind effort” of the team preparing the project proposal. However, if consultant firms are involved, their costs are much higher and are sometimes shared by all participants in a proportion to their expected contribution from the Commission. Also in such a case the proposed software tool can decrease the personal requirements for the project proposal preparation, including its cost.
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Last update: 27.8.2011