Regardless of your organisation’s specific needs, there are some features to always be on the look out for when choosing a grants management system. Qualities such as configurability, ease of use and the ability to integrate other applications with the system, are important functionalities to have in any purpose-built grants management System. Let’s dive deeper and guide you through the functionalities a suitable grants management system should have in our opinion.
Full Lifecycle Management
The starting point would be that a solid grants management system should support the functionalities to manage the entire grant lifecycle. For most grant programs, the assessment and approval of an application is only the first step of an ongoing contract that can take months or years to reach its conclusion. Grants management systems that can create calendars for deliverables and milestones, manage financials and outgoing payments, as well as collate information for the creation of comprehensive impact reports, are invaluable for many organisations, especially those that manage larger grant programs.
Additionally, a grants management system becomes much more valuable and insightful when the entire grant lifecycle is managed in one central place. When all data is linked and can be reported on, insights will come forward that wouldn’t have been visible were they managed in separate systems.
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A system that can grow with your organisation’s needs without requiring significant changes is important in the current grants landscape. Demand, regulations and opportunities can change rapidly. It’s essential to be able to scale up and down according to your organisation’s needs at that time. In some cases responsiveness is critical, in cases of disaster relief. In other cases costs efficiencies can be a main reason to scale according to your needs. Scalable grants management software is of great importance to be at the forefront of the dynamic environment right now.
When implementing a new grants management system, it’s important to research the data migration options it offers. Being able to handle your existing data properly, without losing history, is essential for reporting and auditability purposes. Data migration can often be seen as a major hurdle, but it doesn’t have to be. Depending on the vendor, it can be taken care of and handled by your new vendor. Informing what data migration services a vendor provides can prevent large headaches in the future.
This data migration guide tells you what to look for when considering data migration and how we can help you with your data migration needs.
Implementation and training
When choosing a grants management system, it’s essential to consider the training and implementation aspects to ensure a smooth transition and effective use of the system.
Implementing a new system requires a planned approach based on business needs. Ideally, implementation can be standard or a specialised configuration, with a focus on support for individual business areas or organisation-wide requirements. This allows for the options to adopt a system that can be tailored and adapted to suit their challenges, business processes, compliance and information management needs. It also means you do not have to compromise on functionality and the features you desire.
If data migration is part of your process, it will be handled at this stage to ensure a smooth transition from one system to the other.
Furthermore, comprehensive training options are important to ensure a good understanding of the system for everyone involved. Most likely, there are different training options are available for different type of users. Additionally, it can be beneficial to check whether there are also enough self-guided training materials available for accessible ongoing support.
When choosing a grants management system, reporting capabilities are a crucial factor to consider. Effective reporting ensures that you can track grant performance, comply with reporting requirements, and make data-driven decisions. There are a few key aspects of reporting to consider.
Perhaps the most obvious one – reporting should not be complicated. It’s not your core business and should be done with minimum effort to get actionable insights and to inform stakeholders. You are looking for the right balance between functionality and usability – get the information you need without complicated processes.
Directly connected to this is an important one; report customisation. To create reports exactly how you want them, it’s essential you can report on all relevant information in the system. And this is different for everyone – so customisation and flexibility is key. Reporting across different objects, include financial information, CRM data and milestones is often what is needed at a minimum. Enquire’s vertical hierarchy allows reporting across the portfolio – program – project level for rich insights. Additionally, being able to export raw data is a valuable capability to look for in a grants management system. It opens up a range of possibilities as to how to organise and interrogate the data.
The ability to schedule and automate reporting is a feature often looked for to make reporting easier and less time consuming. Especially recurring reporting tasks are made easier with this functionality. It’s not rare to find this as part of a grants management system, so it’s certainly one to look for as it can be a big time-saver.
As reporting is a major part of grants management, there are many other factors to take into consideration, such as ad hoc reporting, tracking KPIs, dashboards, filters and more. How advanced reporting needs to be is heavily dependent on the organisation and its requirements.
Perhaps the most important attribute for a good grants management system to possess is a high degree of configurability. Between multiple grant programs, funding rounds and ongoing contracts, the need for customisable application forms, impact reports and documents is an essential one. Additionally, it’s best if the grant administration team can make these changes without having to depend on the vendor. This will occur costs and can be a timely exercise. Grants management systems that do not easily allow for management staff to create or edit forms, documents and templates are often not agile enough to cope with the changes that come with situations such as beginning a new funding round or creating a new grant in response to a real-world crisis.
Ease of Use
There are several benefits that come with having a grant management system that is easy to use. First and foremost, a system that is easy to use is easy to learn, minimising the amount of time your organisation will need to spend on training to utilise its new grant management system, especially when migrating from another application that they might have become accustomed to. Furthermore, for all but the most tech savvy of management teams, it is essential your organisation chooses a grants management system with low coding to no coding requirements. This allows for your management team to utilise the software on a day-to-day basis without the assistance of a limited number of IT specialists, allowing your organisation to be agile and avoid becoming bogged down in the technical difficulties that come from using obtuse software solutions.
Having a grant management system that integrates easily with the other programs and applications your organisation uses can often be the difference between becoming mired in costly, time consuming workarounds and maintaining a smooth and efficient workflow. While there is always a degree of wrangling and finagling involved with getting any two systems to work together, most effective grant management systems should at least have direct compatibility with widely used programs, such as the Microsoft office suite and various email platforms.
A grants management system that suits your organisation
Choosing a grants management system is not easy. There are many options out there with ranging features and costs. The list in the article is extensive and not every topic might be as important to you. Therefore, it’s essential to know your business process and focus on what matters to you. Compare systems that offer those functionalities, try their features and get in touch with vendors.
Enquire is a purpose-built grants management system offering full lifecycle functionality and is easy to use. It’s configurability, scalability and range of options for integrations with other systems allows the software to align seamlessly with your business process. A robust solution for all grants management needs.