5 Features To Stay On Top of Your Projects

Here’s a round-up of our top five favourite OmniStar features and a brief description of them we put together for you.

In case you have missed them in our release notes. We hope to empower all users to get the most out of the platform.



This feature is our unsung hero, getting you out of those frustrating moments when you just need to find something, quickly but you can’t!

Simply, click on the Search bar and enter the application, project, contract, review, panel or meeting that you need, and our Global Search feature will navigate to the right record from anywhere in the system.



Stress no more when you manage multiple applications. Status Map is a handy feature that allows you to follow the logical progression of applications with ease. Quickly view which stage of the process your applications are. Not only that, when you hover over each step you can see what actions have been performed and which steps need to be performed.

Navigation to relevant functions is available so you can easily go to the next task to progress the current record to the next stage, including review/assessments, meetings, contract generation, project closure, among others.



When you’re working in a remote world you understand how important collaborative features are. This is why the Track Changes feature is a huge time (life) saver. Now you can easily see application version submissions differences, in the same format as Microsoft Word. Making reviewing feedback a breeze.



We understand that there are times when you need to zoom out and think about the bigger picture or zoom in and focus on a single day or week. For those moments, you need tools that assist you in narrowing in on the important tasks. With OmniStar you can simplify your planning with our Activity Tile feature.

OmniStar makes it dead simple for you to track your, or your team’s schedule. The system will automatically determine what activities need to be displayed and provides warnings when things are getting close to being due and are overdue. It can be set up to show your to-do list (by default) or a range of users’ to-do list. It displays:
• Tasks;
• Reviews;
• Issues;
• Risks.



Fear to lose sight of high-priority projects or important applications? Worry no more, OmniStar got your back!

With Follow feature, you will never miss those critical projects and applications. When you click follow on projects and applications, they will:
• Be placed in your favourites list;
• Appear in your Activity tile by default;
• Be viewable by your managers on your to-do list.

If software does not simplify your life then its not very good is it? Like the trusty swiss army knife, OmniStar has a simple fix for almost every challenge grants, ethics or research management could throw at you.

Like the trusty and flexible swiss army knife, the OmniStar COTS product suite, is a highly adaptable ‘Commercial-of-the-shelf’ (COTS) research solution from F1 Solutions. This leading-edge solution delivers end-to-end research management and includes OmniResearch, OmniGrants and OmniEthics.

1000 plus, configurable features: OmniStar is a powerful SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform which is designed to manage every aspect of a research project. ; from planning to evaluation, and integrates every stage of the process to provide complete lifecycle transparency and accountability. This gives you unparalleled benefits. Audit reports can be generated with just a few clicks. Business intelligence lies at your fingertips. Project progression is clearly visible on screen through dashboard reporting. And information can be accessed and provided to management and auditors just minutes after it is requested. It is highly adaptable for virtually every organisation use case and includes more than 1000 configurable features and a powerful graphical workflow designer framework, comprehensive and insightful reporting all wrapped up in a modern and clean user interface. By design Omnistar empowers business users to implement functionalities and tailor processes to comply with complex regulatory requirements. It accommodates the needs of a wide range of research organisations, from universities to governments at all levels, hospitals administrators and private research firms to multinational research organisations.

OmniStar Configuration Management: In the ‘as-a-service’ world we live in everything from software to TV on demand offers users the flexibility to personalise their experience. The ability to adapt and tailor the solution for clients is of significant importance to the strategic direction and competitive advantage of OmniStar. It is common place for clients to want to tweak or fine-tune the solution to suit them better for a variety of reasons, e.g. to align more closely to their business processes, introduce further efficiencies via increased automation. We are continually looking for ways to further enhance the product and introduce additional functionality that is common across clients to reduce costs and effort.

What makes OmniStar configurable?

In OmniStar, we define configuration as any function or feature that exists in the current version that can be adjusted using configuration, pre-existing settings or scripting to suit the requirements. To provide this flexible capability, several methods exist. These include:

  • SmartForms – Even similar organisations can have substantial varying needs with regards to data capture. As a result, SmartForms are one of the areas where clients tend to express themselves. OmniStar supports this by providing tight (and largely seamless) integration with its SmartForms provider. Forms may be designed through a web-based designer available to suitably-permissioned users of the system. Forms themselves have many capabilities – they can expose look-up data to users filling them out, process calculations, collect attachments, and generate output documents. These forms can be exported and stored in source control or transferred to a separate environment.
  • Features – These are existing switches or settings that can be adjusted to change the behaviour of the solution. Typically used to enable or disable modules or functions within the solution, however they can also be used to set defaults and other behaviour, e.g. email whitelisting. These settings can be exported and stored in source control or transferred to a separate environment.
  • Configured Settings & Lookups – Configured (feature) settings and lookups fall into a couple of main categories, but typically either exist as settings associated with features (e.g. the specific emails that might be whitelisted above; or may fall into instance specific information such as credentials or connection strings used to connect to e.g. an Amazon S3 storage bucket)
  • System Settings & Lookups – Many elements within the system are lookups based on data that can be tailored to suit client needs. Examples include valid statuses for proposals or projects; lists of countries; contact organisation types; programs; through to more complex constructs like grant rounds.
  • Custom Properties – These are fields that can be added to further extend the existing fields that come with the product OOTB. These fields can be added to core entities that exist across the solution and are defined using JSON. A range of options exist when adding these fields which includes their type, validation, conditional visibility, grouping, etc.
  • Email/Letter Templates – Templates are defined for various system purposes, or for use in configured workflows. These templates operate like a mail merge, replacing tokens that are available based on the context in which they’re used in order to substitute in relevant information. This approach is implemented in a flexible way, so that we can support scenarios where a workflow needs to send an email containing some information to someone.
  • Dashboards/Reporting – The dashboards and reporting subsystem allows for the creation of ad-hoc reports and dashboards alongside in-system reports and dashboards. These are created using a dashboard and report designer available within the product using a drag and drop interface.
  • Workflows – Workflows are a flexible and extensible aspect of the system allowing for simple to highly complex interactions and functionality to exist. They extend traditional workflows approach by also providing the capability to act like a state machine which can be created or manipulated by events within the system. An in-system workflow designer allows for the creation and maintenance of how these processes operate. Workflow configuration can be exported to JSON and stored in source control or transferred to a separate environment. The same designer that is provided through the system is used by us to build workflows.
  • String Resources – The localisation subsystem supports client-specific terminology. While one organisation may call a proposal a “Proposal”, another may call it a “Grant”, another an “Application”. This allows for client-specific nomenclature to be supported. These settings can be exported and stored in source control or transferred to a separate environment.
  • External Portal Views – Where the default display of pages is not quite right, individual pages or sections of pages can be replaced or new pages dropped in. While this does not allow for the logic that sits behind them to be changed (without customisation), it does allow for scenarios like adding buttons, removing table columns or rejigging layouts.


System integration with ORCiD has become crucial in helping funders, researchers and research organisation make the funding workflow more efficient and transparent.

Seamless and easy to use

Next generation research management

The Australian research community has been promoting the use of Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCiD) in order to move forward to a single public source for researcher data. The Australian ORCiD Consortium was launched in April 2015 by representatives at Universities Australia (UA), the Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS), the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) and the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) with the aim to provide a national approach to adoption and integration of ORCiD. Since then, universities and institutions across Australia have been encouraging researchers to create and maintain their ORCiD profile and include their ORCiD unique identifier when applying for grants as well as when submitting articles for publication.

The use of ORCiD has been recognised as beneficial in reducing researchers and research output ambiguity, as well as helping to link and reuse researcher data. System integration with ORCiD has become crucial in helping funders, researchers and research organisation make the funding workflow more efficient and transparent, enabling data exchange and reuse at all stages. From submission and review of application, through to reporting.

Understanding the benefits and importance of ORCiD integration, F1 Solutions has included ORCiD integration in the recent version release of the OmniStar product suite. The integration is seamless and easy to use. Researchers only need to provide their ORCiD unique identifier and with a single click they will be able to synchronise their OmniStar profile with their ORCiD profile. OmniStar’s functionality provides the option for full or partial synchronisation of data captured in ORCiD. Additionally, with a simple setup, users can log in to OmniStar using ORCiD credentials, reducing the requirement to maintain multiple logins.

OmniStar’s integration with ORCiD is not just data synchronisation but also the inclusion of the researcher’s profile into various workflows. Researcher data such as education, employment history, funding and work can be extracted and automatically prefilled in an application form. To researchers, this means less double handling of data and maintenance of only one profile, contributing to the integrity of the information.

Researcher data can then be mapped into OmniStar’s database and used throughout the system to assist application administration, reviews and decision-making processes. The data can also be mapped to the built-in reporting database to fulfil any reporting requirements on researcher profiles.

Integration with ORCiD is just one of many examples of F1 Solutions’ commitment to the continuous improvement of its products. F1 Solutions’ passion for providing the best solutions for the research industry promises many more updates like this.

The rise of the digital era has seen the death of many once-loved items, think CD players, basic hand-held calculators and address books. Even hand-written, posted letters are on the verge of extinction. But there is one thing that is refusing to go away despite increased IT capability – paper forms – and for good reasons.
Paper forms offer a lot of flexibility. You can skip from page to page and fill in information out of sequence. You can take a paper form with you anywhere, as you don’t need to be online to fill it out. It’s easy to keep a copy for personal records, simply photocopy the form before you submit it. You also have the opportunity to pick up a pen and put a physical signature on the page, and there is something about formally signing against the content that makes it seem more official.

But just as it has its benefits there are also many problems with using paper forms over electronic submissions, including:

  • Illegibility of handwritten responses;
  • Wasted time (and paper) where whole sections are marked as “N/A”;
  • Inconsistency in formatting of “regular” fields such as Phone Numbers and Dates;
  • Fields being filled in incorrectly or missed entirely; and
  • Delays in transportation of physical documents through the post or even hand delivered.

But now there is a new type of digital form that is finally worthy of replacing paper forms -SmartForms. SmartForms has retained the strength of paper-based forms, capitalised on the advantages of virtual forms, and also introduced a new opportunity to tailor the user experience.

There are many benefits of using SmartForms and they can be tailored to meet your needs. Among the most important is all incoming data being captured in a consistent, chosen format, which becomes available for reporting instantly.

This is far more powerful than it sounds! A good SmartForm engine allows you to combine data input into forms with the metadata about the forms to draw true insight into the effectiveness of your forms and to refine and hone the user experience. Without this capability it would be virtually impossible to see something along the lines of “People who filled in Section D abandon as many forms without submitting as they actually submit”, or “Sections B and E are almost always submitted together rather than just one or the other”. These insights allow you to easily revise the Smart Form, and through doing so, the end-user experience is better, leading to higher user adoption and ultimately a better quality of data.

Also, the use of SmartForms can be far more versatile than you might first think; a standard application form might be an obvious choice but what about a feedback form? An initiation point for a request for assistance? A submission point for questions to be answered publically? A system for rating aspects of a user’s experience? By using SmartForms for purposes other than replacements for what would otherwise be standard forms, your business stands to benefit in a plethora of ways.

This is why we have embedded SmartForm technology into our products and our client’s applications. Not only do they increase the sophistication of online forms, but they also add valuable insight, improve customer satisfaction and user experience, and obtain operational efficiencies. No wonder they gained the name SmartForms.

Zarthost Boman
Written by: Zarthost Boman February 2016

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