Legislation is increasingly focusing on the importance of performance reporting to bring transparency to Federal spending. The underlying goal guiding this increase in performance reporting is increasing transparency, and finding ways to improve and increase access and equity through grant funded programs.Most programs could use this moment as an opportunity to reexamine their processes and put reporting in place that can provide early insight to adjust when needed to improve outcomes.
One of our goals at AmpliFund is to help you streamline and standardize your processes so your outcomes can become a larger focus of your grant program administration, and so you can report on your successes effectively.
By solidifying what your goals and objectives are for your program, you can more clearly see what steps you will need to take programmatically to achieve those goals.
AmpliFund has put together a goal-driven framework that can be scaled down to fit the needs of your individual organization or program. One of your main goals is likely maintaining compliance. That is an excellent goal, to be sure, but it is probably not your only goal. If you re-examine your processes and current organizational operations with your program’s mission or intended outcomes in mind, you may find many areas that could be streamlined or improved.
Figuring out what your organizational operation goals should entail is not an easy process in and of itself either. One of the most difficult things about defining your goals and objectives for grants management processes is understanding how to align the expectation you have with the reality of your organization. As each organization is different from the next, processes and necessary outputs are unique from one entity to another. Knowing how your organization currently functions will help you find a starting point to build your goals from.
So, let’s make two process maps: one that will help you understand how your workflows currently operate, and a second to see where you want to be. Then you can perform a gap analysis to come up with a process that is actually workable for your organization.
Document Your Processes
Grant Management Process Mapping
Process mapping is the exercise of documenting your current processes in order to better understand shortcomings, specifically pinpoint where you could implement desired improvements, and identify specific steps that can be taken to achieve improvements.
One method for beginning a process mapping exercise is the sticky note method. Sit down with your grants team and record each task you or a member of your team completes individually first throughout their process, noting each one on a separate sticky note. Each team member should have their own color sticky note so you can visually determine where each member is involved at each point in the process.
From here, tasks can be built out to include the associated documents and deliverables, key parties, and methods of communication each team member completes or uses at each step. Have each team member take a picture of their map if they prefer, or document their individual process in some way that makes sense for them.
Map Your Current Process
Now that you know how everyone individually operates in your grant management process, you can concentrate on the big picture. Make a table to record your current high-level grant management process, from pre-award through audit.
Consider the following when you’re writing down your process:
We have included an example table below.Write each step in the process on a separate line, and include notes on related documents, responsible parties/key stakeholders, and current methods of communication (i.e., email, online calendar, internal server, paper files).
Current Grant Management Process
Identify Key Stakeholders & Ancillary Systems
As you might uncover during your process mapping, grant management touches a lot outside of the grant management team. Other stakeholders and ancillary systems are necessary to successful grant management.
It’s important to identify these components of your system in order to understand how and why they will be affected by organizational change. The people and systems that must adapt could be obstacles in the implementation of new processes.
In the space below, list any stakeholders or ancillary systems that are required to interface with your grant management practices, and note the reason why.
Key Stakeholders & Ancillary Systems
Design for Performance
Define Your Goals
After you’ve mapped your current process and included all relevant stakeholders, you can begin to see your current system concretely. You may notice weaknesses, redundancies or inefficiencies. Make note of them as you work. Now you’re ready to define your future state. Your future state is what your grant management process will look like once tangible changes have been made to it.
We all have ideals that we imagine that we fail to deliver on because they are ideals. We need to set some realistic expectations for what we can achieve now instead on measuring ourselves against the perfection we think we should already be achieving.
Set realistic goals for process improvement, write them down, and benchmark against them.
Based on your current process, outline your future grant management process. Put a star (*) next to items that will be different from your current process in a table like the example table that follows.
Future Grant Management Process
Make sure you are effectively communicating the process improvements to your team and all affected stakeholders. Finally, along with your team, determine if your new processes align with and support the mission that you’re all trying to move forward with this program funding. If not, how can you make changes to ensure not only mission-alignment, but also efficiency.
Reexamining your business processes with your mission in mind may seem like a strange idea, but in practice, it will keep you and your team focused on the “why” of your efforts, and can help you see outside of the narrow field of vision you necessarily have to adopt when maintaining compliance is your main goal.
You may find that implementing new technology could be helpful for streamlining your processes. Implementing technology can help your organization:
Eliminate paper records in order to streamline communication and mitigate the risk of data loss
Standardize your processes and workflows to reduce administrative burden
Help your organization centralizecommunications to ensure institutional memory and reduce inefficiencies
Maintain compliance and accountability to maximize draw down
To learn more about how grant management software can help your organization streamline your processes, schedule a demo today.