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Vacancy: IRAS Business Lead

Vacancy: IRAS Business Lead

20th November 2017

An opportunity to work within the Health Research Authority to support the development of IRAS for the future has been announced.

Job title: IRAS Business Lead
Department: Approvals Service
Pay band: 8A
Hours: Full-time Fixed Term/secondment to 30/6/2019
Location: home based/Manchester/Jarrow/Nottingham/Bristol
Reports to: Director Approvals Service
Liaises with: HRA Research Systems team, IRAS Partners Board, Internal and external IRAS Stakeholders 

Job Summary

The IRAS Business Lead is a new fixed term role and will be responsible for providing leadership for user and stakeholder engagement to support the development of the IRAS for the future.

This is a varied and complex role that will require an in-depth knowledge of NHS research regulatory and governance systems and experience of engaging with a wide range of stakeholders.

Collaborative working with stakeholders across the UK, and with those engaged on related HRA projects will be key.

We are looking for an accomplished and self-motivated individual with excellent communication, negotiation, problem-solving, planning and organisational skills. You should have experience of working with multiple stakeholders and internal and external customers.

The Health Research Authority

The HRA is a Non-Departmental Public Body with the remit to protect and promote the interests of patients and the public in health and social care research.  They do this by supporting and promoting a robust and efficient regulatory and governance framework in the UK. They provide the Research Ethics Service (RES), Confidentiality Advice function, assessments and assurances on behalf of the NHS, and learning, guidance and advice for the research community. Their ambition is to make the UK a great place to do research, where more money invested in research goes into carrying out relevant, good quality research.

Their purpose is to ensure that research involving NHS patients and members of the public is approved through a proportionate and robust system, that they are provided with the information they need to help them decide whether they wish to take part and that their opportunity to do so is maximised by simplifying the processes by which high-quality research is assessed. They have already delivered significant improvements by centralising and simplifying the approval of research in the NHS in England, and are undertaking a range of significant programmes to deliver further improvements.

To achieve this purpose, they work with all relevant partners to help create an environment where:

  • greater numbers of patients and the public can and do take part in health research, and continue to feel safe when they do
  • applying to do research is simpler, and getting a decision is quicker
  • researchers find it easier to do high-quality, ethical research
  • the NHS appreciates how health research benefits patients and staff
  • industry sees the UK as a great place to do health research
  • more money from charities and other research funders goes into carrying out research, and less into getting through unnecessary hoops before it starts
  • clinical trials are registered and research results get published.

The HRA has a number of functions. They:

  • are the Appointing Authority for RECs in England and provide the RES
  • by agreement with the Devolved Administrations, we support a UK-wide system for ethical review in the UK
  • appoint the Confidentiality Advisory Group; an expert group which provides independent advice to the HRA regarding the appropriate use of confidential patient information without consent in the NHS for research, and for other purposes, such as commissioning health services
  • provide HRA Approval for the NHS, including assessments and coordination of technical assurances by staff, as part of a compatible system across the UK
  • work in partnership to coordinate our activity with other organisations regulating and governing research, including the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Human Tissue Authority (HTA), Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Administration of Radioactive Substances Advisory Committee (ARSAC)
  • provide advice and support through our advice service, published guidance, information and training programmes
  • provide the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS), through which all applications for regulation and governance of health research are made in the UK, and have agreed plans to provide a unified approval process from the IRAS platform
  • have an on-going programme of work to shape effective national roles for the HRA, within our remit to provide a unified approval process and to promote proportionate standards for compliance and inspection.

The HRA relies on the members who serve on its committees, who give their time freely to provide a robust and independent review of research proposals.

The values which drive the HRA are:

  • Inspiring leadership - Enabling people and teams to develop and deliver dynamic, innovative and transformative services and systems
  • Integrity - Being fair, ethical and honest in everything we do
  • Trusted - Being respected for delivering to consistently high standards
  • Transparent - Being accountable and open about all aspects of our work
  • Collaborative - Listening to and working with others to identify and make improvements to the health research environment
  • Empowering - Supporting independent thinking and decision-making.

Key responsibilities

  1. Lead on design and delivery of user requirements across multiple interfacing information systems to time and appropriate levels of quality
  2. Ensure business needs of multiple organisations are captured, and interfaces between systems are described
  3. Responsible for development of a benefits realisation plan to maximise value and build upon ideas of key stakeholders
  4. Develop process maps and user requirements documents
  5. Provide support to software development teams to ensure requirements are fully understood and appropriate solutions delivered
  6. Work with the project teams to deliver the preferred solution to the agreed benefits within the agreed timescales
  7. Track the status of individual functional requirements as they progress from inception to verification
  8. Manage the delivery of user acceptance testing and training, through the appropriate forums
  9. Enable achievement of expected benefits, engaging with stakeholders to facilitate and prepare them for the transition to new information systems
  10. Demonstrates clear leadership skills and the ability to influence and persuade others
  11. Coordinate and lead multiple “virtual” project task groups involving users and stakeholders, ensuring provision of direction and support to groups
  12. Identify risks and issues, allocate owners, review on a regular basis, and escalate where necessary, whilst resolving issues and initiating corrective action as appropriate
  13. Incorporate good change management processes, working jointly with key staff responsible for this element of the project
  14. Work with internal and external suppliers to monitor and assess the project on behalf of user groups
  15. Be aware of stakeholder engagement requirements, and create and maintain communication strategies in order to ensure effective and timely communication with all stakeholders, in liaison with the HRA communications team
  16. Facilitate and manage effective knowledge transfer during the handover of finished projects to ensure systems are properly supported and maintained through operational life
  17. Ensure that the benefits of project activities are identified, measured and owned in order to support the Programme Team in supporting business benefit realisation
  18. Lead Post-Implementation Reviews to ensure that lessons learnt are incorporated into future development by carrying out project evaluations and assessment of results
  19. Actively participate in related programmes, collaborating across projects where relevant
  20. Maintain a strategic focus, balanced with a thorough business knowledge.


  1. The duties and responsibilities outlined above are to be regarded as broad areas of responsibility and do not necessarily detail all tasks, which the post holder may be required to perform
  2. The post holder will undertake such other duties as may be required commensurate with grade and experience
  3. The job description may be subject to change in the light of experience and circumstances after discussion with the post holder
  4. All duties and responsibilities must be carried out in accordance with statutory legislation, HRA standing Orders, Standing Financial Instructions and Health & Safety regulations.

Special Conditions

Equal Opportunities

The postholder must comply with and promote Equal Opportunities and accordingly must avoid any behaviour which discriminates against colleagues, potential employees, patients or clients on the grounds of sex, marital status, sexual orientation, age, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion, political opinion, trade union membership or disability.

The postholder must, at all times, carry out his/her responsibilities with due regard to the Equal Opportunities Policies.

Health and Safety

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), it is the responsibility of individual employees at every level to take care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their acts at work.  This includes co-operating with the organisation and colleagues in complying with health and safety obligations to maintain a safe environment and particularly by reporting promptly and defects, risks or potential hazards.

All employees are required to act in accordance with their responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The post holder must be aware of the responsibilities placed upon them under the Health and Safety Act 1974 to ensure that agreed procedures are carried out and that a safe working environment is maintained for patients, visitors and employees.

Risk Management

Staff at all levels have a responsibility for ensuring that risks are managed at workgroup and local level.  This process will include the assessment and effective control of all acceptable risk situations.

As an employee you will be expected to maintain a high level of awareness and assist in the process of reporting incidents, assessing risks and reporting unsafe occurrences and co-operate with any investigations undertaken.

Employees will be required to adhere to all HRA policies and procedures and attend statutory and mandatory training.


HRA is an equal opportunities employer and expects its staff to respect the diversity of the community it serves regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religious belief.

Smoke-Free Policy

HRA has a smoke free policy and it is the responsibility of employees to co-operate fully with management in the implementation of this policy.  The purpose of the policy is to provide a healthy smoke-free environment for the benefit of patients, visitors and staff, and all employees are expected to comply, this includes all premises and grounds.

Person Specification

Where the specifications state desirable, the intention would be that over a period agreed with the line manager that there would be evidence of development in these areas.

Attributes Essential Criteria Desirable Criteria
  • Masters Degree OR demonstrable experience equivalent to this level in a middle/senior management role
  • Experience of managing projects.
  • Training in project management techniques
  • Training in user requirement development or business analysis
Knowledge, skills and expertise
  • Experience in team leadership
  • Experience of  change  management
  • Experience of collaborative working to improve service or performance
  • Experience of driving and managing significant change across organisational boundaries
  • In-depth specialist knowledge of the UK research regulatory and governance processes and workflows
  • Experience of preparing, processing or reviewing applications in IRAS
  • Strategic Management in situations with uncertainty and no precedent
  • Risk Management, identification and implementation of contingencies
  • Budget Management
  • Planning and organising complex inter-related activities involving people and information systems
  • Facilitate collaborative working across organisational boundaries
  • Analysis and problem solving of complex situations
  • Communicate complex, contentious information
  • Worked in the NHS or other public sectors
  • Experience of communication and negotiation with a range of stakeholders
  • Experience of agile software development
  • Specialist knowledge of existing research information systems such as IRAS, CPMS, CSP Module or RED
  • Experience of documenting user requirements, liaising with suppliers and coordinating user acceptance testing
Communication & relationship skills
  • Demonstrate success in working through multi-disciplinary teams
  • Able to work on own initiative, taking decisions and actions in line with the business aims of the organisation
  • Able to demonstrate effective leadership and motivational skills
  • Logical and analytical approach with attention to detail
  • Able to document detailed information accurately and concisely
  • Demonstrate a range of effective communication and presentation skills
  • Able to elicit detailed information, question uncertainties, analyse assumptions and reconcile conflicting requests
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Innovative and forward thinking
  • Committed to timely delivery to agreed quality standards
  • Excellent interpersonal and facilitation skills to act as the interface between individuals in diverse roles across multiple organisations
  • Resilient and tough-minded
  • Confident and energetic
  • Self-starting, personally motivated, proactive, self-aware, flexible and adaptable
  • A professional approach which inspires confidence
  • Firm, fair and friendly
  • Team worker
Other Requirements
  • Willingness to travel to HRA offices and nationally as required to deliver the project
  • Able to have occasional nights away due to travel

Candidates wishing to apply for the job can do so using the NHS Jobs portal.

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