1. What Do You Need Help With?
There are hundreds of grant management systems in the market today. How can you tell what system makes the most sense for you? First, let's start with what type of grant management process(es) you need help with. Common pre-award and post-award activities can be further separated into grant-making (grantor) needs, and grant-seeking (grantee) needs. Our simple matrix can help you ask the right questions about grant management systems by separating activities into quadrants representing four main grant stages.
Some systems provide deep functionality in a single area. For instance, the most common grant management system provides support for competitive bids, scoring and applicant management. Nearly 90% of grant management systems are focused on this need. If you were to search grant management software or systems, you will likely find software that provides grant-making support. If you are looking for an end-to-end grant management system, you will want a solution that can address each quadrant of the matrix.
2. SaaS, or Custom Built?
The choice between custom built solutions and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions is an important one. Here is a great article on the subject, SaaS vs. Custom Built software, and some key characteristics that should shape the type of grant management system you purchase.
1. Standardization: Your grant management system should create more standardization across your entire organization. This will help drive transparency, produce more timely and accurate reporting, and help comply with federal grant requirements, also know as the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200). Building or purchasing a grant management system that does not standardize and streamline your processes will cost you more, and produce less return-on-investment for your enterprise.
2. Information Sharing: Your grant management system must allow for easier information sharing. Without this feature timely reporting will be very difficult to achieve. Most duplicative efforts that drive administrative costs are a result of disparate systems and complex processes that make it difficult to report to internal and external stakeholders. Today, users across your enterprise are likely exporting data into spreadsheets, reformatting that data, and then loading it manually somewhere else. This process creates excess administrative costs and internal control issues that lead to audit findings. A modern grant management system can help you avoid these costs.
3. Collaboration: Your grant management system must provide a means for all stakeholders to collaborate. The grant life cycle covers many departments - both internal and external - and incorporates significant amounts of data from other areas of your organziation such as finance and payroll. Without an easy way for these stakeholders to work together, relieving administrative burden and improving performance will be difficult.
3. What Do You Need To Start?
What do you need to successfully implement your grant management system? Grant management is not a solo practice. It requires collaboration and information sharing with internal and external stakeholders. Make sure you define your goals and stakeholders before making an investment.
Are you looking for a solution for a small organization, a single department, or are you tasked with finding an enterprise solution for your entire organization? It's important to know your specific scenario to help determine the number and type of users you will need to successfully modernize your grant process. Here are two common scenarios.
Scenario 1: Do you have a small number of users, projects and grants? Do you manage most of the grant process for your organization? Are you a grants office of one? Do you need other users to support approvals, access reports and provide information? If this sounds like you, your organization can modernize your system with a small set of users. Usually 10 users or less. We commonly setup accounts in this scenario with 3-5 users that manage about 10-15 projects.
Scenario 2: Does your organization have multiple departments and a large number of system users? Does your organization manage a large grant portfolio with both internal and external stakeholders?If this sounds like your organization, then you need an enterprise grant management system. The average eCivis enterprise client will have 200+ users and manage more than 500 projects each year. An enterprise client will also require external users such as sub-recipients and other collaborators. This can range from 10 to 10,000 users.
Resource: How To Select Your Grant Management System
Now that you've defined the basics, it's time to dig in and find out what things you should be looking for in a grant management system? Download the paper to find out. You should also schedule a demonstration to see if each grant management system provider can address the needs, scenario and industry you have now defined.