Excel is a flexible program and a standard feature in almost every office. There's no doubt about that. However, while the program may fit many basic reporting needs, it falls short when it comes to grant seeking and award management. Simply put, grants management requires a system designed to manage the whole life cycle, from finding and applying for grants to financial reporting and compliance—tasks that spreadsheets are not equipped to take on. So we'll keep it bold and simple: it's time to drop Excel and pick up grants management software instead.
You might be thinking, “My spreadsheet is working just fine now, so why should I fix what isn’t broken?” A reasonable response. But it is not reason enough to continue what you’re doing if your organization has ever experienced missed deadlines, received audit findings, or had to return grant money.
Here are some indicators of when your organization should take the next step from spreadsheets to grants management software:
1. Grant funding has been mishandled or under-utilized: This is a primary reason that state and local governments search for grants management solutions: They’ve sat on funding for years, they’ve had to return millions in unspent grant dollars, or they’ve put future funding in jeopardy because of mismanagement. A centralized software source allows for efficient tracking so that all funding is accounted for.
2. Senior management has trouble answering basic grant-related questions: This situation will require a better system if you don’t believe that procedures ensure adequate documentation of eligible costs, you’re not sure that all eligible costs are being identified, or you’re not comfortable that procedures would highlight noncompliance before it becomes a significant issue.
3. Preparing worksheets in Excel requires too much staff time to manage: Simply put, duplicate entry and reconciliation to a general ledger are time-consuming aspects of the accounting process.
We think the grants management solution is clear. But if you'd like to read all 10 reasons to use grants management software to cover the full grants life cycle, download our free article: