Choosing a new grants management software solution is often a lengthy, time consuming task. The potential wasted time and expense of a failed software implementation necessitate choosing the correct vendor and grant management system the first time.
When choosing a new grants management software vendor, you will want to make sure to account for the vendor’s history with grants management, the software’s ability to manage the complete lifecycle of your grants, and the flexibility of the grants management software platform.
When evaluating a new grants management software system, you should first evaluate the vendors.
The grants management software market has a few long-established vendors with proven, stable systems and decades of experience implementing systems at an enterprise scale. Conversely, the market has seen a recent uptick in small vendors offering management solutions that lack the full suite of features that the are available from the more experienced vendors. While some of these new upstarts may offer lower prices upon initial implementation, their lack of experience can lead to costly delays, frequent rework, and the need to quickly move on to a more established vendor. Conversely, some long-established software companies will state that their platforms can be adapted to meet a grant-provider’s needs. While the company may have software experience, lacking the specific knowledge of grant processes can lead to the same issues faced with the new upstarts.
This evaluation often leads to the selection of vendors with a proven history providing grant management solutions which are similar in size and scope to those that your agency gives. This will lead to an implementation that is completed on schedule and on budget.
Grant Providers must also evaluate the capabilities of the various grant management systems. If your agency requires purchases to go out to a Request for Proposal, or RFP for grant management software, it may benefit you to view demonstrations of various products (such as IntelliGrants® IGX) first. Some Grant Providers will view demonstrations of various products as part of a Request for Information (RFI). Regardless of method used to solicit product demonstrations, this will allow you to quantify the capabilities of the various offerings which will provide the necessary context to inform the composition of a specific RFP that allows the vendors to see and respond to your exact needs. Too often public agencies issue vague, ineffective RFPs with hard-to-define requirements that lead to generic responses that don’t address the agency’s real-world needs.
When evaluating these vendors, the following considerations should be taken into account:
Some of these questions may be more important to your agency than others. Discuss with your team exactly what it is your ideal system would do and which processes you would like to automate and ask your prospective vendors to explain or show how their platforms can manage those tasks. The focus of this exercise should be to fully flush out and document your business needs. This will accomplish two very important objectives:
The final major component when evaluating a new grants management platform is flexibility. Some vendors offer completely off-the-shelf systems with minimal configuration or customization available, meaning that the system your agency buys will be practically identical to the system bought by an agency across the country. Agate Software supports the templated approach while also offering a core platform that is configured to your exact needs: every form, document, report, dashboard, and business process is tailored to your exact needs, with your agency’s branding included throughout the system. Agate Software has a comprehensive library of grant systems across the country. In the event that an agency would like to adopt a grant application and supporting processes that are already built and in use, we can simply copy the application that most closely meets the client’s needs. Both options can be valid in different cases; some customers prefer a quick installation and adapting their processes to fit a new software, while others prefer the ability to have a vendor configure a system to their precise needs. There are some important questions to ask about flexibility before procuring a new grants management system:
Answering these questions prior to engaging in discussions with vendors will allow you to choose the vendor who most closely aligns with your agency’s goals.
Once you and your team have decided that you really need a COTS solution with a best in class service provider, give us a call! Agate Software’s IntelliGrants® system is a great fit for those agencies who prioritize quality, flexibility and value. The ground breaking IGX release of IntelliGrants is designed to be the most flexible grants management solution on the market today with its powerful core allowing agencies to have the system configured to their exact specifications.