Many grant programs engage external assessors to review, evaluate and score applications.
External assessors are often recognised experts in their fields and can bring enhanced objectivity, insight, specialist knowledge and greater independence to the decision making process.
Their involvement, however, is often far from straightforward and needs to be carefully managed if these benefits are to be realised.
Much depends on the integrity, efficiency and transparency of the system supporting the grant application process.
Assessment and evaluation functions must sit with the same system as application and reporting.
This ensures all parties have access to the same application data; that workflows are tracked and results are easy to compile without collation issues and mistakes.
Here are four critical factor to consider when engaging external grant assessors.
Connecting External Assessors to the Grant Management system
Engaging external assessors can introduce challenges for program managers, especially where multiple assessors are providing highly detailed and technical assessments that involve substantial documentation.
Too often external assessment reports are paper based, are provided in emails or delivered as PDF style attachments. This increases delays, raises administrative costs and introduces the potential for lost or misaligned evaluations, or data mistakes.
Effective external assessor participation relies on grant program managers providing assessors with a system that is configurable to support the needs of the evaluation approach, effective administration processes for engagement and accountable interaction tracking.
Without a solution to manage assessor and assessments the administrative burden can result in higher costs and significant program delays, with mistakes undermining the integrity of the entire grant program.
Configurable But Standardised Assessments and Evaluations
Grant assessment must have a structured and common evaluation criterion. Assessors must all be aligned in both qualitative and quantitative input.
This makes compilation, scoring and comparison from one assessor to another, and one application to another simple and fair, resulting in more confident decision-making.
Even where assessors are responsible for evaluating different aspects of an application, a common evaluation criterion ensures all input and interaction is aligned and organised to avoid a mish mash of individual responses to different application sections.
A grant management system must target assessments to the relevant assessor and compile all input into a single application assessment all from a single system.
Interaction is the Key to Effective Relationships
To deliver their verdict and insights many assessors need to engage applicants and program managers during the assessment process.
These evaluations often are staged, forming a part of an overall evaluation compiled with results from other assessors. Each assessor is often individually engaged, making them blind to other inputs.
Depending on the program this might mean a long process whereby each assessor is involved individually and at different times with program managers struggling to support their needs.
Where a process is staged, assessors should be aware of the status, and notified when their engagement is demanded.
Easily view and report on assessor workflow status.
A grant lifecycle management system should allow assessors to follow a clear and concise workflow so they understand and engage at the appropriate points.
Assessor workflows should promote efficiency and support assessor responses in parallel to reduce time needed to arrive at decisions.
This means multiple assessors can deliver their evaluation on the same grant application at the same time, vastly reducing the time needed to complete an assessment.
Assessor Relationships are part of the Grant Lifecycle
Engaging external assessors directly in the grant assessment process on the same grant management systems is critical as they are central to the full grant lifecycle.
With secure, auditable and always available technology a grant program manager can configure a role-based access approach that provides interaction capability to the right information at the right time.
Many grant making systems provide services to post online applications, deliver evaluations and award grants. Few however, offer the ability to securely support interaction of all 3 parties and data management on the same system.
Enquire Grantcycle Management provides a client portal so that applicants and assessors can access and interact with the same grant management system that the program managers use.
Using Enquire, program managers can configure and manage all internal administration and functions through the management portal the core of the Enquire Grantcycle management system. Here they can set the assessor roles and access, and monitor, track and report on any aspect of the application, and the assessment.
The grant lifecycle is more than an online application and awarding system. The integrity of a grant program depends on how effective relationship management aligns to the needs of all parties, from applicants and assessors through program investors.