Grant Software: How to Recognize It's Time to Improve Your Software
By Rachel Bennett on August 13, 2020
Did you adopt a grant management solution only to find you haven’t significantly decreased your organization’s administrative investment? Is your current solution causing your users and team frustrations due to lack of functionality, slowdowns, or no support tools?
By analyzing these questions, you are taking a crucial step in determining if your current grants management software is right for you (or if you aren’t currently utilizing software, is it time to consider investing in a software tool).
As a leading provider of grant management solutions, we know that you want to be the unsung hero of your mission.
To do that, you need grant management software that helps ensure compliance and streamlines your processes, so it’s easy for you to focus on managing the grants that you distribute and the grants you receive.
Based on our time in the industry and our frequent discussion with partners, we’ve compiled this list of the most common warning signs that it’s the right time to upgrade your grant management software to better meet your organization’s needs.
…Let’s dive in!
1. Applicants can’t upload various media attachments
Simply put, if your current software is not offering this key feature, it is only hindering your applicants’ processes. It’s common for users in different grant cycles to need to attach one (or multiple) media files throughout the application process. Files can vary in type– .mp3, .jpg, PDF, Word documents, etc.– so your system should be able to easily handle users uploading and viewing these types of media attachments.
Furthermore, this functionality is just as necessary to those on the other side of the application — the funders. Staff, panelists, and others on the back-end should be able to view and download files straight from your system without a problem.
2. You are frequently losing work
Nobody likes to lose the work they’ve been putting hours and hours into, and your software users are no exception. It is a frustrating experience, and if it’s something that occurs frequently, they’re more likely to take their efforts elsewhere.
Your goal as a funder is to make the application process as easy and pain-free as possible. Applicants should be able to save their progress and return to their work as they please.
If this is a problem users frequently mention to you, you need to fix it promptly.
3. The back-end functionality is challenging for your staff
How your staff utilizes the grant management software is just as important as how the front-end users interact with it. It’s no secret that a more simplified process makes it easier for applicants. Still, it also helps your team and panelists if they can streamline their process and categorize, review, and accept new applications.
Common features in your software should be easy to manage and not depend on help from technical staff. Some of these features include:
- Customizing applications based on their grant cycle
- Application form template library
- Leaving comments on applications
- Scoring and reviewing applications
Frustrated comments from your team about the software’s functionality (or lack of) should be taken seriously, and the goal should be to find new software that makes their jobs easier and improves internal workflows and processes.
4. Your system is lacking comprehensive support tools
Do you or your staff find yourselves spending too much time trying to figure out technical support questions on your own or relying on an in-house IT professional to get your problems fixed?
Lack of or no support for your software creates problems like decreased productivity, a slowdown in your processes, and reduced capacity as an organization.
For example, if you’re using a third-party vendor, there could be a significant lag in response time. If you’re using an in-house system, maybe you’re always relying on a select IT professional who possesses the right specific training. [source]
Your grant management software should offer robust support tools and a concrete plan for your long-term success with extra help from a customer success team or an account manager (or both!).
5. It doesn’t have third party system functionality
Are you struggling to figure out workarounds for your software because it doesn’t integrate with other systems or tools? Or maybe you find yourself developing costly and complicated integrations instead? This is a sign that it’s time to upgrade your software.
There’s a wide variety of tools out there that employees use to work more efficiently, but if your current software doesn’t integrate with these tools, it only makes the entire process more challenging to manage.
Often, older grant management systems struggle to keep up with compatibility for its users because they’re created on technology that is out of date.
Finding the right partner who can support and develop a software solution that meets your integration needs will help your system stay flexible and work with your employees, not against them.
6. You’re experiencing bottlenecks due to manual, redundant tasks
If you’re finding your organization’s processes are bogged down with tedious work or your experience could be improved at various times due to…
- Admins spending too much time responding to customer questions or emails
- A bulk of time spent strictly on organizing applications, printing applications, or reviewing applications
- They need to manually move an application
…Then it’s clear your internal process could be significantly improved with a grant management system. It should automate manual, redundant tasks and help you streamline communication, go paperless, stay compliant under changing legislation, and organize applications all under one robust, centralized system.
7. The system’s performance is slow or not performing how you want it
If you’re frequently experiencing freeze-ups, regular software crashes, or slowly loading software, it’s unfortunately not going to be solved quickly. Slow software means a slow and inefficient organization.
This normally indicates updates, patches, or maintenance are needed that either are no longer available or unable to be maintained due to the lack of bandwidth of your internal IT staff or your current software provider.
If you determine there’s no way to improve your current software’s performance for good, then it’s time to invest in a grant management system that provides robust support tools, a dedicated customer success team, an account manager, and single code base to provide you seamless updates with no downtime.
8. You have to pay extra to add more users
At any point in the grant lifecycle, team members from varying departments in your organization could need to offer their expertise. If your current software only provides you a certain number of users before you incur additional costs, this could become expensive. It also could add an extra time burden if you are simply looking for a quick answer from a team member.
Instead, look for grants management software that offers unlimited users, so any internal and external team members can be involved in the process at any given time.
9. You’re worried about maintaining compliance with legislation
It’s no secret that ever-changing regulations can add an additional pain point to your efficient and accurate management of funds. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you’re looking for a new software system be sure that your new system is designed to keep users compliant and stay on top of changing legislation.
Bonus points if the company has been integral in recent data legislation!
10. You are operating on paper-intensive processes
Are you currently using a heavily paper-based process for your grants management? Are you considering to move to paperless? This scenario is a lot more common than you may think.
AmpliFund client, County of Kaua`i, HI, was looking to decrease paper use tied to its grants processes - since the county’s departments still heavily relied on paper (PDFs, spreadsheets, applications, etc.) throughout the entire grants lifecycle process. Their paper-intensive grants management system was making it challenging to track documents and had limited data accessibility. Still, once they switched to our digital grant management solution, their burdens were alleviated, and now, the county can track approximately 220 grants with ease.
Do any of these issues sound familiar?
Are there a few (or a lot) that your organization is currently experiencing?
If you’re experiencing any one of these “warning signs,” then it’s time to upgrade your software.
Finding a grant management system that meets your needs will ease your administrative burden, improve your organization’s internal workflow, and help keep up with deadlines and reporting, so you can focus on amplifying your impact.
If you’re ready to see how our solution can solve your problems, request a demo today. We’ll walk you through how AmpliFund can help you streamline operations, improve efficiency, maintain your compliance, and increase your ROI, all in a customized 30-minute demo.