4 Ways to Streamline Grant Management
By David Parks
Grant managers and contract managers have a lot in common. Both are faced with a growing number of administrative burdens created by increased complexities, rules, and regulations in managing the lifecycles of legally binding agreements. For grant management, those burdens are often amplified given the need to operate within very tight budgets to ensure the maximum amount of funding goes to grantees or projects.
This article looks at four ways contract management software can help grant managers streamline and automate the grant lifecycle across the pre-award, award, and post-award phases.
Editor’s Note: For more information, download our whitepaper on Contract Management Best Practices.
1. Centralize All Grants and Related Information in a Single Electronic Repository
At each phase of the grant lifecycle — and for each grant type — there are numerous documents that need to get created, submitted, evaluated, approved, and managed. This includes: grant planning documents, funding announcements, applications, notices of awards, budget sheets, and other closeout-related records. Keeping track of where these documents live and their relationship to each other can be a challenge, and if not done properly can expose grant managers to audit and compliance risks.
Unfortunately, many grant managers still rely on shared folders to store grant documents. This makes locating grant information an extremely manual and time-consuming effort. Contract management software enables grant managers to establish a centralized, electronic repository in which to store and search for all grant-related information such as: documents, contacts, organizations, and key dates – making it easy to manage, locate, and secure.
2. Automate Grant Workflow Processes from Pre-Award to Closeout
Depending on the size and type of the grant, the process for completing each step in a grant’s lifecycle can vary greatly. Managing grant workflows manually via tools such as email and spreadsheets only adds to the administrative burden.
Fortunately, contract management software allows grant administrators to automate and configure workflows for each grant and lifecycle stage. A few examples of where automated workflows can be used include:
- Grant applications can be automatically distributed to pre-defined evaluation teams for review
- Configurable alerts, tasks, and calendar reminders can be added to the workflow to prompt action in advance of deadlines such as application submissions and awards
- Grant evaluators and contributors can create and share notes, as well as collaborate on the application directly within the software — ensuring a record of all comments for auditing and compliance
- Once award decisions are made, the system can email notifications directly to applicants or project participants
3. Create Grant Documents Using Pre-Approved Language and Template Libraries
With contract management software, many of the documents involved in a grant lifecycle, such as: funding announcements, applications, or notices of awards can be assembled using pre-approved clause and template libraries. This accelerates the creation of these documents and ensures that only approved language is used.
For example, you can build grant applications using standard form fields that allow you to easily add them as records in the system. You can then use the data in those fields to dynamically populate pre-defined document merge fields for any notifications to the applicant, such as a rejection, denial, or acceptance letter. In addition, the grant documents are automatically formatted and styled based on the document type, saving time and ensuring consistency.
4. Tracking and Visibility of Grants with Search, Reports and Dashboards
Tracking the status of each grant in your portfolio and having visibility into key metrics associated with it is critical for audit, compliance and communications purposes. According to Grants.gov, grantees are required to have a defined process for collecting, analyzing, and reporting on grant data.
Whether you are a grantor or grantee, you want members of your organization to have quick access to all the data associated with your grant documents for all phases of the lifecycle. Unfortunately, using shared folders and spreadsheets for grant management renders that data incapable of being easily accessed or visualized.
With contract management software, you have access to all your grant data. Information about grants can be easily searched for or rolled up into reports and dashboards. Questions regarding the date a grant application was filed, the status of an application, the value of an award, or if the grant is ready for closeout can all be answered in real time.
Grant administrators can streamline and automate their grant management processes with the help of contract management software. Four key benefits include: centralizing grants in a single repository; automating grant workflows; creating grant documents using pre-approved language and template libraries; and tracking and visibility of grants with search, reports, and dashboards.