Life of a Consultant by Claudia Coomans
9 March 2020
Deadline Day- An inside look at submissions
We have been working towards this deadline for months, and as always with deadlines, the final days before the deadline are extremely hectic: final decisions to be made, correction to be implemented, and in my case, even adding an additional clinical partner to the consortium. I must admit, I was very unsure whether we would still manage to add this French partner. Apparently, I reached out to them during a French holiday and as a result my emails remained unanswered and my phone calls ignored. But with perseverance and dedication (and calling almost everybody at this French hospital), I managed to establish contact and even get the contract signed just in time.
Today is deadline day. Before the day is over, the proposal we have worked so hard on has to be in the portal and the “submit-button” pressed. I’m focused on entering all details correctly in the portal, one by one. The proposal is an Eurostars project and amongst consultants the Eurostar portal is known as one of the most user-unfriendly portals out there. The Eurostars proposal consists of answering 35 questions and the answers (which are restricted by a maximum character count) have to be uploaded one by one, as well as the 40 questions regarding information about the various consortium partners, resulting in uploading 155 answers in my case. Several Eurostars proposals are being submitted today and as a result, all consultants in our Amsterdam office are working with extraordinary focus. The energy in the rooms is almost tangible.
Something disrupts my focus: applause is coming from an adjacent room. This means that another Eurostars project has been successfully uploaded in the portal. For the consultant that just submitted this proposal, this means relief. But for me, my anxiety level goes up: it is 2 PM, and within 3 hours the project must be submitted. And even though I’m almost finished with uploading everything, the uploaded information needs to be checked by my cluster lead one last time before I can submit. We always aim to submit not at the last moment, since portals can be very unstable. In the past, the Eurostars portal has been unavailable for hours during deadline day. If that would happen now, it would mean that our as well as the client’s efforts have been in vain.
I finish uploading the information and make a printout of the uploaded documents for a final check. Luckily, only minor things need adjusting. Together with my cluster lead, we do a final check of the portal (i.e. making sure all attachments are included and no information is missing) and then I can finally press “submit”. A notification of the system asks whether I’m really sure I want to submit these documents. Am I sure? Yes of course, we have checked, and re-checked and re-re-checked, just as is custom for the quality control of Catalyze. The proposal is submitted at 16:20, 40 minutes before deadline. Not ideal, but at least we managed. Just as we always manage at Catalyze.
In one of the offices we drink a glass of wine (or beer) to celebrate another successful deadline day. I feel relaxed and relieved. Each team has its own traditions following submissions. Our team celebrates by pressing an applause-button. Tomorrow we will have to chase the consortium partners for signing the signature forms, but for now we celebrate and unwind, Catalyze-style.