When fast and unpredictable things happen, grants are needed quickly. And this makes assessing and accessing grant funds, at speed, paramount.
Funds may be needed to support people who have found themselves short of cash to support themselves. It could be that young sporting talent needs support to be able to access training and coaching. Or it could be to deal with the devastation of an unforeseen crisis, such as bush fires, COVID-19 or drought.
It is this urgency that puts pressure on organisations that are managing grants and rebates. And it’s often when having to work at speed that mistakes appear, leaving the benefactor or (if not both) the recipient frustrated. This isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s simply a case that traditional infrastructure to manage grants is no longer suitable for modern day expectations. All it’s doing is pushing applicants and organisations further apart.
This is something we’ve had to bear in mind when thinking about innovating products for our customers. What does a good grant management system look like in the modern day? What capabilities should it have for funds to be granted or rebated quickly and with minimal resource waste?
What does grant management modernity look like?
The next development of anything should always aim to solve current challenges. And I think this is exactly what the next generation of grant management platforms needs to do, if it’s worth organisations investing and transitioning their systems. To me, there’s three stand-out challenges that have become prevalent here.
Firstly, there’s become a greater pressure on traceability when it comes to funds. There’s been a few fairly high-profile cases in which organisations have granted funds to dubious places. Although many organisations will hopefully already keep records of where their funds go, the next generation of grant management systems needs to make this process easy and transparent.
Secondly, money needs to be managed more efficiently. For example, there’s no point an applicant applying for a grant, when all available funds allocated to that grant program have already been spent. Having a capability within grants management that updates the funds pot in real-time would help to reduce frustration from applicants who feel they’ve wasted their time.
Thirdly, funds need to be allocated quickly, as I’ve already mentioned. A lot of time and money is spent on building funding programs because decision-makers don’t have the ability to create programs themselves. They have to use IT technical teams that rely on the expertise of decision-makers, which prolongs the building process. Ideally, giving decision-makers the ability to configure funding programs themselves would address the current speed to market.
The benefits of next-gen grant management
The challenges I’ve outlined above are exactly what we’re addressing in our grants management product. It’s a series of applications which sits on top of Microsoft Dynamics 365.
So, far we’ve rolled this solution out across a number of organisations that regularly make grants and rebates, which includes the Australian Federal Government.
The Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science wanted to streamline its end-to-end grants management process to make it easier for businesses to find, understand, and access more tailored support. Fujitsu partnered with the Department to build and implement an agile solution, based on the Fujitsu Grants Manager. It worked towards reducing the time between grant application and awarding, and providing a clearer management view of grant statuses, results, and outcomes – all to enable the Department to rapidly adapt to future business needs.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia experienced a similar grants management transformation with Fujitsu. It was hosting and old version of Fujitsu’s Grants Manager solution with Microsoft Dynamic CRM in-house for the end-to-end management of the claims process lifecycle. Although the system was successful at the time, it had become outdated. Storage had become costly, it had become prone to crashing, and it was difficult to maintain, in comparison to newer solutions. To overcome these problems, the Guild decided to work with Fujitsu to migrate systems to Microsoft Azure, which has seen zero downtime since its implementation.
Since then, PGA has not only overcome its problems but encountered multiple new benefits. These include a reduction in hosting costs, more scalability, additional features, enhanced user control over platform, and minimal downtime.
Seeing our grant management solution being used in reality, has allowed me to see just what the benefits of innovations within the field can be.
One of the most noticeable is a better relationship between applicant and sponsor. This is down to less frustration on both ends during the funding process. The sponsor doesn’t have to spend as much time on customer service issues that should be easily solved. And applicants are able to experience a more seamless process, with a platform that guides them through each stage. It also means the applicant is able to track the progress, from start to finish.
Using additional technology like this enables good relationship or stakeholder management – you know who’s applying and how much for, which takes care of the traceability aspect of this.
But of course, the biggest win, is its contribution to the overall digital transformation of the organisation – something that will only become more important for those wanting to futureproof themselves.
The efficiencies technology can bring to the grant management system can give employees of organisations back their time, which can be spent on more complex issues.
Most importantly, it gives employees more time to extend aid to more individuals and organisations, as soon as they need it. A responsiveness we’ve all realised the full criticality of over this year.
Having seen the developments being made to grant management in the public and charity sector I believe technology can make a positive difference.
If you’d like to find out more information about how to overcome issues with your current grant management system, you can find more information on our website.