More Science, Less Admin: PayNorthwest Supports IDRI’s Mission by Bridging the Gap Between Grant Allocation and Payroll

Horizon Building Image Founded in 1993, The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) based in Seattle, WA is a grant driven non-profit organization whose mission is to apply innovative science to develop products that eliminate infectious diseases of global importance. By partnering with businesses, non-profit foundations, and government agencies, IDRI has developed a unique product-based approach to fighting infectious diseases that has yielded novel diagnostics, vaccines, and treatment strategies that are protecting and saving lives.


Being primarily grant-driven, all 130 IDRI employees, of which 85% are scientists, need to allocate and record the exact amount of time they spend on each grant every single day for accurate internal grant reporting. As most IDRI
employees are on salary, they need to be paid for a specific number of hours per paycheck. However, time worked needs to be applied to the actual grants that are worked on, and vacation and sick time needs to be applied pro rata to the grants that accept vacation and sick time. Raw time data is retained for grant reporting purposes while fully loaded cost reports allocate payroll taxes and benefits costs to the general ledger.

“As a non-profit, our application is pretty specific and complex in nature,” explains Lee Schoentrup, Director of Communications for IDRI. “We didn’t just need to be able to process payroll in a timely and accurate manner, we also needed to enable all of our employees to easily bill multiple grants, including administration staff and scientists.”

IDRI’s incumbent solution required a lot of manual, time-consuming manipulation, was confusing for employees and very prone to human error. Fixing errors required vendor intervention, causing delays of up to several days.

“What we desperately needed was a reliable vendor who could support our mission by providing a flexible, web-based single-repository system that we could use ourselves and could easily accomplish time tracking and cost allocation for all employees,” continues Schoentrup.


IDRI went back and looked at their current vendors for any new products that might solve the problem, as well as investigate other providers including PayNorthwest and its Workforce Lumina system. “After comparing all available options, it became clear that PayNorthwest was the right solution for us,” says Schoentrup. “We realized that their company culture was in line with ours and the fact that they were local was an added benefit for us.”

solution-imageIDRI started working with PayNorthwest in January 2014. The product was so easy to deploy that Rob Smith, IDRI’s Director of IT commented, “This was the easiest payroll implementation I have been through.” Within a month, IDRI rolled out PayNorthwest’s Workforce Lumina suite for time (TimeLumina) and payroll (PayLumina). But IDRI didn’t just stop there. Over the summer, the non-profit deployed HRLumina Enterprise to help with annual employee reviews. “Conducting annual staff reviews on paper was always a laborious process,” continues Schoentrup. “Now, we all input our goals and make our self- or peer evaluations. All employee files are in the same format in a single repository, all easily accessible by management and employees alike. And PayNorthwest’s customer service has been nothing but stellar throughout this whole experience.”


IDRI’s employees saw the first noticeable results and a positive difference in their daily routines within just a few days of using PayNorthwest’s new solution:

  • The time needed to process payroll and generate grant allocation reports has significantly decreased
  • Payroll errors can be fixed internally in a matter of minutes instead of several days
  • All 130 IDRI staff members can now easily access the same application for streamlined reporting, enhancing staff productivity
  • HR administration time and costs have been significantly reduced

“In PayNorthwest, we have not only found a great single-solution vendor that bridges the gap between our time tracking and payroll,” concludes Schoentrup. “We have also found a true partner who supports our mission by enabling us to spend less time on internal administration and more time on what’s important to us – keep scientists at the bench to create new diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines to help those who need it most.”