For organisations looking to streamline their grant processes and demonstrate the impact of their programs, choosing the right grant management software (GMS) platform is a huge decision.
With numerous options available in the market, it’s essential to make an informed choice that aligns with your organisation’s specific needs and goals.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the key considerations to help you navigate the selection process effectively. Whether you represent an LGA, a government department, a not-for-profit, a higher education institution, or a private enterprise, these insights will help you choose the ideal GMS for your requirements.
Why use grant management software?
Effective grant management extends beyond compliance – it’s about ensuring no funding opportunity goes unnoticed. Grant management software serves as a valuable tool for facilitating the grant from multiple perspectives.
From a project management perspective, this type of software helps both grantmakers and grantseekers oversee the essential activities that occur at different stages of each grant application, from pre-award preparations to post-award monitoring.
A well-implemented GMS can streamline complex processes, saving you valuable time, reducing costs, and unifying stakeholders. But how do you choose the best GMS for your organisation?
9 factors to help you choose the best platform for your organisation
Here are some of the main factors to consider before purchasing a grant management system.
1. Define your key stakeholders’ needs
When selecting the ideal grant management software, the first step is to gain an intimate understanding of your key stakeholders’ unique requirements. Consider what your executive team needs to know about program progress, what recipients expect in their engagement with your program, and the importance of demonstrating rigor in your grant management process.
To instill confidence in your funding bodies and recipients alike, a streamlined system is required to orchestrate an environment where all stakeholders are aligned in purpose and clarity.
2. Assess your program’s goals and objectives
Whichever software platform you choose must align with your program’s overarching goals and objectives. For example, is your primary focus to enhance operational efficiency, improve the accuracy of your reporting, or show quantifiable impact?
Begin conducting an assessment of both your current and future needs by asking yourself these questions:
- What are the core goals and challenges you encounter in grant admimistration?
- Which functions and features are must-haves in a GMS for your operations?
- Are you managing a specific number of users and grants at present, or anticipating growth in the future?
- What budget and staff resources can be allocated for the implementation and use of a GMS?
These answers will narrow down your options and establish the criteria that matters most for your organisation. Websites like Capterra and G2 can provide additional assistance in comparing various grant management software platforms.
3. Features and functionality
Once you’ve identified your program’s goals, evaluate the features and functionality offered by potential software platforms. Some key features to consider include:
- Application management and tracking: A robust system should excel in managing and tracking grant applications efficiently.
- Financial tracking: Accurate financial tracking and reporting tools are indispensable for financial transparency and compliance.
- Decision tracking: You need to be able to track decisions and actions seamlessly throughout the application lifecycle, from submission to approval.
- Real-time analytics and reporting: Access to real-time analytics and reporting capabilities empowers informed decision-making and program evaluation.
- Collaboration tools: Effective collaboration tools promote streamlined communication and cooperation among both your team and applicants.
- Funding opportunities: The software should facilitate easy exploration of available funding opportunities to make informed decisions on where to allocate resources.
- Integration capabilities: Evaluate the software’s integration capabilities with your existing systems to ensure smooth data flow and compatibility.
- Seamless submissions: Simplify the submission process for EOIs and applications to encourage timely submissions and a smoother workflow.
- Fairness and integrity of recipient selection: Look for features that promote fairness and integrity in the recipient selection process, reducing the potential for bias.
- Contract execution: The right software should assist you to efficiently execute and manage grant contracts, ensuring clear and transparent contractual terms.
As you evaluate grant management software options, keep these features and functionalities in mind as guiding criteria. The right combination of these elements can significantly impact the effectiveness and efficiency of your grant management processes.
When considering the adoption of a new software tool within your organisation, ease of use should be a top priority. The platform should be thoughtfully designed for simplicity and user-friendliness, benefiting both your internal team members and external applicants.
A complex system can lead to frustration, hinder widespread adoption, and ultimately reduce productivity.
Look for a grant management software solution that offers:
- An intuitive and user-friendly design that minimises the learning curve for users.
- Inclusivity and accessibility for all stakeholders involved.
- Consistency in project timelines and processes.
- Ongoing support to help your team overcome challenges and fully utilise the software’s capabilities.
Remember that user-friendliness is not just a convenience; it’s a critical element that can influence the successful implementation of your grant management software.
5. Scalability and flexibility
Your grant management needs to evolve, and your software should be able to adapt to these changing requirements. Look for a software solution that can accommodate your organisation’s growth and evolving needs over time.
Scalability ensures that the software can handle increasing volumes of data, applications, and users without compromising performance, while flexibility means the platform can adapt to changing requirements. Both are vital for organisations that anticipate expanding their grant programs or managing larger portfolios of grants.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Can the software scale easily to manage complex grant portfolios? If your organisation deals with numerous grants, each with varying requirements and stakeholders, the software should provide the flexibility to manage this complexity efficiently.
- Is it adaptable to future needs? Ensure that the software can grow and evolve with your organisation. This adaptability minimises disruptions and allows for seamless transitions as your grant management requirements change.
- Does it offer customisable features and workflows? Look for a solution that allows you to tailor the software to your organisation’s specific processes and reporting needs. Customisation empowers you to align the software with your unique grant management approach.
Not only will this position your organisation for long-term success, but it will help prevent the need for costly migrations or software replacements as your organisation grows.
6. Data security and compliance
Software platforms deal with sensitive grant information, so data security is paramount. Ensure that the tool you choose complies with relevant data security and privacy regulations to safeguard your organisation’s and applicants’ data.
Here’s how to ensure your chosen software aligns with the highest standards of data protection:
- Regulatory compliance: Look for clear documentation or certifications that demonstrate the software’s commitment to compliance.
- Comprehensive security measures: Scrutinise the security measures implemented by the software provider. These measures are designed to protect against unauthorised access and potential breaches, providing a robust shield for your sensitive information.
- Industry standards: Evaluate whether the software adheres to industry standards for security. This commitment to exceeding standards ensures that your data remains protected against both common and emerging threats.
- Employee training and confidentiality: Inquire about the software provider’s employee training and confidentiality practices. This can determine whether or not their staff understand the significance of maintaining the privacy of client information.
- Continuous monitoring and updates: Effective data security is an ongoing process. Ensure that the software provider continuously monitors and upgrades its security measures to stay ahead of emerging threats. Regular updates and improvements reflect a commitment to keeping your data safe in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
- Accessible support: Lastly, choose a software provider that offers accessible support for any data security concerns or questions. Knowing that you can reach out for assistance provides peace of mind and ensures that your data remains protected.
With the right software partner, you can confidently manage your grants while knowing that your data is in safe hands.
7. Customer support and training
Don’t underestimate the importance of customer support and training! These factors can significantly impact your software implementation and long-term success.
To assess the level of support and training provided by the software provider, consider the following aspects:
- Responsible support team: Investigate the responsiveness of the software provider’s support team. A responsive team ensures that you have assistance readily available when you encounter issues or have questions during the implementation process.
- Training resources: Comprehensive training resources are essential for ensuring that your team can fully harness the platform’s potential. Look for software providers that offer detailed training materials, including user guides, tutorials, and documentation. These resources empower your team to become proficient users of the software.
- Dedicated customer success manager: A dedicated customer success manager can be a game-changer for your grant management journey. This individual is your advocate within the software provider’s organisation, ensuring that your needs are met and challenges are addressed promptly. A proactive customer success manager can guide you through any roadblocks and help you optimise your software usage.
- On-site onboarding: Onboarding is a critical phase when implementing grant management software. The availability of on-site onboarding can expedite the process, allowing your team to get up and running quickly and efficiently. It’s an opportunity for hands-on training and support tailored to your organisation’s specific requirements.
- Ongoing support: Consider the provider’s commitment to ongoing support. Will you receive continuous assistance even after your project is up and running? Knowing that you have reliable ongoing support ensures that you can adapt to changing needs and challenges as they arise.
8. Budget and cost considerations
Consider your budget constraints and the overall cost of the software in your decision-making process. Here are some essential aspects to contemplate:
- Total cost of ownership: Beyond the initial purchase price, assess the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the software. This includes licensing fees, maintenance costs, and any potential hidden charges. A transparent view of the TCO ensures that the chosen platform aligns with your budget constraints throughout its lifecycle.
- Pricing models: Different software platforms employ various pricing models. Some may charge based on the features you need, the number of end-users, or the scale of development. It’s crucial to understand these pricing structures to avoid unexpected costs and ensure that your selection aligns with your budget.
- Return on Investment (ROI): Evaluate the potential ROI of the grant management software. Will the software’s efficiencies, automation, and productivity gains offset its costs over time? A solution that delivers a strong ROI can justify a higher initial investment.
- Hidden charges: Pay attention to any hidden charges or additional costs that may arise during implementation or use. Transparent pricing policies are essential to prevent unexpected financial burdens.
As you explore your options, aim to strike a balance between your budget and the software’s capabilities. By aligning your budget with your organisation’s needs effectively, you can make a confident and cost-conscious decision.
9. Try before you buy
Before you commit, make sure you can book a demo or request a trial of the software platform first. This hands-on experience will allow you to explore the software’s functionalities and see them in action. It’s an invaluable step in assessing whether the platform aligns with your organisation’s needs and expectations.
And finally, don’t hesitate to ask vendors the tough questions. Request demonstrations that showcase features in action, rather than relying solely on descriptions. Most reputable vendors are more than willing to provide comprehensive demos tailored to your specific requirements.
Ready to make your funding go further? Book your demo now to see how SurePact makes grant management simple.