8 Signs You Need to Upgrade Your Grant Management System

As a nonprofit or foundation, your grant management system is vital to your organization’s workflow efficiency. A well-functioning system makes life easier on staff and panelists, helps boost the number of applications you receive, and makes for a better user experience overall. Here are some signs that your current system isn’t performing as well as it should, and why you should consider upgrading to a new system.

Applicants frequently call your office with questions or problems

First and foremost, your grant management system should be seamless and intuitive for your applicants. A better user experience helps to ensure that applicants can submit their materials efficiently and without any headaches. 

If your organization regularly receives contact from applicants with questions about how to do something in the system or with an issue that requires troubleshooting, it’s likely that your current system has some serious usability issues that need to be addressed. Not every potential applicant will contact you when he or she runs into an issue, so it’s probable that users encounter problems even more frequently than you’re aware of.

Your grant management system should be built with applicant needs in mind. A custom system can break applications into multiple steps that are well organized and easy to navigate. Your staff can be more productive, spending less time fielding questions and more time on their other responsibilities.

Applicants frequently lose their work

There’s nothing more frustrating for your applicants than spending lots of time inputting information only to lose it all and have to begin again. If this is a problem your users frequently experience with your current system, it needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Make it easy for applicants to save their progress and return to their applications when it's convenient for them. A new system can allow applicants to log in to their account at a later date and continue the application. Custom form validation can ensure that all required fields are completed before final submission. It’s also possible to further streamline the process by allowing applicants to copy personal information and completed applications from previous years so that they don’t have to enter any duplicate information. 

Your applications can’t accept multimedia attachments

It’s likely that your grant cycles require different multimedia attachments as part of the application process. System users need to be able to easily upload and view rich media assets such as audio, video, image, and PDF files. 

A custom system should be able to handle any type of rich media uploads that your grant cycles require. Panelists and staff can also review or download these assets without having to leave the system. 

It’s not intuitive for your staff

Your system’s backend functionality is arguably just as important as the frontend. A simplified process makes it easier for staff and panelists to sort, review, and accept applications. Panelists can also leave internal comments that are only visible to certain users. Creating new grant cycles, customizing applications for specific cycles, and editing existing applications should be easily managed and not require help from technical staff. 

If you’re hearing a lot of frustrations from your staff, it’s time to think about implementing a new system that supports your internal workflows.

Assigning panelists to specific applications is challenging

It should also be easy to assign staff or panelists to specific applications. A better system includes functionality that provides a list of assigned applications that each panelist can see when they login to their account. Custom systems also provide the option to review the application online or download it as a PDF to review offline. 

This type of functionality ensures a more efficient review process; it eliminates any unnecessary information so panelists only see what they need to see. 

It’s not cohesive with the rest of your web presence/branding

All of your digital properties should have cohesive branding. This includes elements like design, color palettes, fonts, and voice. Consistency across your web presence cultivates a stronger brand identity and also makes for a better user experience. Changing up elements like design, layout, and typeface can be distracting, or it can cause users to think they’ve left your website and gone to another. For the best user experience, your grant management system should be seamless with your design and styling.  

You can’t integrate with your third party systems

The employees at your organization use a wide variety of tools to do their jobs efficiently. A grant management system that can’t integrate with these tools makes the entire process clunkier and more cumbersome. 

The right development partner can design and develop a system that supports your custom integration needs and features. Enable automatic application status updates through email integration and connect with your CRM. 

You’re paying excessive licensing fees

If you’re using out-of-box software to manage your grant cycles, it’s likely that you’re paying a substantial amount each year in licensing fees. If your system isn’t as efficient as you’d like and you had to compromise on certain features, you should consider replacing it with an open source solution. While there is an initial investment to build your system, you’ll be able to customize it exactly to your needs, and you’ll end up saving money in the long run. 

Implement a better workflow

If your current system is experiencing some of these symptoms, it’s time to consider an upgrade. Learn more about how a custom, open source solution can provide all of the features that you need to improve and optimize your workflow.