Horizon 2020 calls are a fantastic way to get funding and support for your project.
But let’s be honest….
The management and the bureaucracy that come with them are UNREAL.
If you are not familiar with what lies beneath a Horizon 2020 call, you end up spending most of your time managing its bureaucracy rather than the project!
So, in this post and video, I will show you how to manage a Horizon 2020 call.
I will give you an EXCLUSIVE guided tour of the Horizon 2020 participant portal.
This is your interface with the European Commission and the place you can only access once you have won a Horizon 2020 call and started managing a project.
Ready? Buckle up, here we go!
My Area – My Projects
This is the entrance to the Horizon 2020 participant portal – i.e. this is the page you will see anytime you manage some aspect related to you project.
If you’re managing more than one Horizon 2020 project, you will see a list of different projects.
In this case we only have one, so we’ll stick with that.
Now, important part: the legend.
As you see, you have eight coloured boxes in the interface and three coloured boxes beside the project (under “Actions”).
This mean that at this time you can access information on the Project Consortium (PC), view your proposal (VP) of Manage your Project (MP).
All the other boxes may or may not appear depending on the timing.
See, Horizon 2020 Calls have pre-determined deadlines for each project, and the Horizon 2020 participant portal will activate each box whenever it makes sense for you to use it.
For example: PR. Periodic Reporting in Horizon 2020 projects has only to be done every few months or years (usually half-way through the project), so it doesn’t make any sense for you to access the page 12 months before the deadline.
What you are most interested in is MP – Manage Project.
In the sections below, I will show you all the key areas you need to know for your Horizon 2020 Project.
Participant Portal – Process list
This is it.
This is THE page you will deal with 95% of your time in any Horizon 2020 Call.
Let’s get to it.
On the left-hand side (blue box) you have all your project’s basic data at a glance.
Below that you have four links to pages.
The process list link points to this very page.
You have three processes shown here: Continuous Reporting, Proposal Management and Grant Preparation, Ethics Management.
No point in going through each one.
The only one you are going to actually use in a Horizon 2020 Project is the first one: Continuous reporting.
Process Specific Communications
Let’s start by clicking on Process Specific Communications.
Once you do that, the Horizon 2020 interface opens up and allows you to talk directly to your project offices (the one listed in the blue box on the left, that is).
Horizon 2020 projects seldom use emails.
Instead, all communication is centred here, so that you have all information stored on the EU’s servers.
This makes it also easier to track information about the project.
Process Specific Documents
Let’s go now on process specific documents.
Here you will find any relevant document within your Horizon 2020 Project.
This means any deliverables you might have submitted and any attachment you might have sent to your project officer via the interface.
Now: BE CAREFUL.
You CANNOT DELETE a document once you submitted it, so be sure of what you are sending in because that is final.
Happy so far?
Because now things get REALLY interesting…
Continuous reporting data
See this link circled in red?
If you click on this area, you’ll open up a whole new world.
So let me show it to you below.
This is where you submit your Horizon 2020 deliverables to the Commission.
The table lists all the deliverables you promised in your horizon 2020 Call, along with their code, work package, lead beneficiary (i.e. who is responsible for that deliverable), the type and nature of the deliverable (e.g. report and public) and the estimated delivery date, the receipt date (i.e. when you submitted the deliverable) the accept date (when the Commission accepted it) and the status.
Now, the status changes depending on where you are with the deliverable.
There are three versions:
Pending (normal): you still haven’t submitted it.
Pending (red): you still haven’t submitted it and the deadline is getting close.
Submitted (red): you have submitted a final version of your deliverable.
To actually upload a deliverable in the Horizon 2020 interface, you need to click on the green circle after the Status column.
This opens up a window where you can upload your document.
Once you submit it, it’s final and you can download what you sent in by clicking on the blue circle (only available if the status is “submitted”).
Milestones are a specific kind of deliverable in Horizon 2020 as they are used to track progress in your project.
You don’t need to upload anything on this page, but you do need to punch in manually the date when this has been achieved.
Usually milestones correspond to some deliverables you upload, so just check if what you just uploaded corresponds to one and the mark the milestone as achieved.
At the end of your reporting period(s), the Commission expects you to publish a summary of what you have done so far with respect to your Horizon 2020 project.
Again, this is public and final – you don’t get to change it afterwards so don’t mess up!
When writing it – always keep in mind why you received money in the first place. Was it to fund your startup? Show them you are starting to get profits or that you’re on the way there. Was it to fund your research project? Show the results so far.
And always remember one thing:
The Horizon 2020 programme is giving you money to create European value. Show them where the EU value is in your project!
The gender dimension is usually not that important in Horizon 2020 project management – because unless you are specifically targeting genders in your study it boils down to how many people (men/women, however intended) are working for each project partner.
I understand this is a lot of information, but HANG IN THERE!
Especially now, because in the next section I’m going to talk about what you need to do to get your money at the end.
So go back to the Process list and click here:
Once you do that, you’ll end up in another section of the Horizon 2020 interface..
And THAT is where you need to be careful.
Let me show you why:
Horizon 2020 Legal Data
This section contains all legally binding information – meaning all the rules and regulations that you need to respect in order to get your money in the end.
In other words: your contractual obligations.
GA stands for Grant Agreement (the Horizon 2020 standard document regulating the fund you are receiving and what you need to do for them).
This section gives you an oversight of the basic data of your grant.
This is a list of all the deliverables you need to send in, including a due date and the lead partner for each one.
Clicking on any one will reveial a legally binding deliverable description – i.e. what you promised to do.
Again, milestones are a specific kind of deliverables in Horizon 2020 Calls.
Here you have a legally binding description plus a link to the relevant work package.
As you know, your project is divided into a bunch of these (they are requested in any Horizon 2020 Call).
In this page, you get a brief list of fundamental information about your work packages. For each one you have:
Start and end Months
A link to the relevant deliverables.
If you click on any of the deliverables link, you end up here:
Here you find a summary of all the relevant information for this specific Horizon 2020 work package -- including links to further sections.
So, this is a brief look a the bureaucracy and the project management behind Horizon 2020 Calls. I hope this helps you a bit understand “what lies beneath”.
More Horizon 2020 Project Tools
I get it , I get it…
This is a whole amount of information.
So, to help you navigate this world, I’ve put together a list of useful tools for Horizon 2020 projects:
For an in-depth look at the participant portal, including exclusive content not shown in this post, take a look at my Horizon 2020 video.
To set up your project budget and timing, check out my killer Excel Gantt Chart for European projects -- field-tested of course.