Grants are used to deliver programs through direct assistance to community organisations and individuals, engage companies and organisations or fund other areas of government.
As governments search for greater efficiency, better returns and more reliable information on what is achieved from the investment of public funds, many are turning to software as a service (SaaS) solutions.
SaaS solutions offer many advantages over custom developed systems but until recently lacked flexibility and configurability. Often this meant the only choice was a custom build.
All too often custom built systems are a costly and static point in time solution. This limits future use and leaves departments with systems that become increasingly expensive to manage and maintain.
SaaS options have advanced rapidly in recent years with some, like Enquire Grantcycle Management, addressing issues of flexibility and configurability in addition to other key benefits government should consider when implementing a new grant management system.
1. Best Practice
Many governments and agencies use a combination of internally developed highly specified systems delivered to meet aging "as-is" requirements.
This is particularly the case in the grant management industry. The UK National Audit Office reported in 2014 that there was no central good practice guidance and limited central data to support departments in implementing efficient and effective grant programmes.
The demand for improved standards and processes have matured in recent times as funders seek greater transparency and effectiveness of funding.
New grant management SaaS systems are leading the way in applying best practice and consistent processes to grant management and administration through their direct experience across a wide range of clients and industries and input from practitioners world-wide.
2. Cost Effectiveness
Developing custom built systems often results in a very high upfront cost compared to SaaS systems. Development and implementation can stretch over long periods, making them prone to changing requirements and business conditions.
Typically, this occurs due to a lack of understanding of sector-wide best practices for grant management processes, and the costs associated with building from scratch. Additionally, custom built systems become complex and expensive to adapt to future changes and demands.
3. Data Integrity
Inflexible or out of date systems that no longer meet current needs result in practitioners abandoning these systems, and work arounds come into play.
The integrity of grant program management is reduced with data, decisions, reports, and other project related information, stored and managed separately.
This can introduce errors, inaccurate and out-of-date data, as well as a lack of a repeatable and consistent approach to reporting greatly reducing transparency and accountability.
To be effective SaaS systems must offer flexibility to support the processes and requirements of government clients which are often significantly more demanding than private sector needs.
Grant management in government often involves complex workflows, participation of a wide range of internal and external stakeholders, support for program/project hierarchies and the need to measure and report on program results that may be delivered by a variety for projects.
Providing a deep level of configurability ensures the solution can be tailored to meet specific demands for data, roles for users and processes to support administration and management. This can be adjusted as needed.
In advanced systems like Enquire Grantcycle Management clients can update configurations on their own in real time, create custom data fields and reuse/clone workflows, forms, templates and reports. Importantly these configurations do not require any programming and do not impact the integrity of the overall system.
Grant program management is core to delivering many government policies. As such it is important that the system integrate with other common systems. Important data, like financial payments, must interface with other systems to ensure data integrity and accurate reporting.
Documents must be shared, tracked and managed between systems to eliminate expensive duplication. Access and roles should be aligned with single sign on systems already present and reflective of the organisation.
SaaS solutions that integrate with 3rd party systems help ensure government grant management can more easily respond to future changes through supporting secure and open exchange of the information, eliminating silos that impede efficient and effective management.
Enquire Grantcycle Management is a leading SaaS grant management solution, designed to meet the demands of government grant program management. Since its inception, Enquire has managed over $18 billion worth of grants across commercial organisations and government departments throughout Australia and internationally.
With over $200B of policy initiatives grant funded in across Australia this year, Enquire Grantcycle Management is an important solution to advancing the integrity and capability of grant program managers in charge of these programs, and the departmental managers who must ensure transparency and accountability for the effective use of taxpayer funds.