With the onset of COVID-19, grants now comprise a large portion of state and local revenue. Today, public-sector entities are still administering and distributing their own share of the $150 billion provided to state and local governments as part of the Coronavirus Relief Fund. To administer, manage, and track this influx of funding, governments are turning to grant management solutions.
A recent Gartner report, Consider Four Key Factors When Selecting a Grant Management Solution, states that “increasingly, grant management vendors are leading with SaaS solutions, promising expeditious enterprise-scale implementations, backed by full business process analysis (BPA) and configuration services.” While some solutions are more tailored to the needs of grantors who manage recipients of funding, others are more focused on the needs of grantees who must search, obtain, and manage such funding.
When selecting a grants management solution, aim for an all-in-one system that addresses the needs of grantors and grantees as well as the full lifecycle of grants: finding, getting, managing, and measuring performance once administered.
Why Governments Should Say "Yes" to SaaS
In today’s world where virtualization has become the necessity and norm, SaaS offers a number of advantages to governments in dire need of digital solutions. While upfront investments can be more, SaaS offers the ability to rapidly deploy solutions with quicker ROI. Additionally, “the subscription cost of a SaaS solution also includes regular upgrades and maintenance, alleviating already-constrained IT personnel resources and avoiding time-consuming and costly upgrades,” according to Gartner.
Take the state of Arizona for example. Using eCivis’ SaaS-based grant management system, Grants Network, the state was able to launch the Arizona Public Assistance Express Pay Program. This has helped the state to expedite the delivery of public assistance and funding to all types of recipients–while shortening the timeline of distribution from months to mere days.
Picking the Right Grants Solution
According to the Gartner report, “CIOs modernizing legacy, mission-critical applications in government should [...] differentiate grant management solutions using capabilities such as analytics, configurability and management of financial information, and evaluate them against their organizations' application strategies.”
Ability to Execute and Implement
As grant managers and CIOs evaluate their mission-critical applications, potential solutions, and their current grant ecosystems, they should also consider these questions:
- Is my agency a grantor, grantee, or both?
- What processes does my organization own and contribute to?
- What information will users need to leverage, create, or analyze?
- What information will be created and managed within the system or shared with other systems (internal or external)?
- What’s the number of grants and dollar volume of grants administered by our agency?
A solution should be configurable to an entity’s mission and wide variety of priorities. For example, a state, city, or county enterprise solution may need to administer grant programs across a diverse set of agencies, such as transportation/public works, health and social services, and education.
Each of these programs has similar processes but may require different information for tracking purposes.
Gartner cautions that: “However, this configurability is equally advantageous and potentially problematic. On one hand, the solution must be flexible enough to accommodate the varied grant applications, contact information, budget information, etc. that an organization needs to collect and manage to effectively handle the grants within its purview, and to align with grant reporting requirements across agencies. On the other hand, too much configurability can lead to complexity, which lengthens the time and cost to implement the solution.”
In short, while organizations should seek a grant management solution that fits their unique needs, be it searching for more grant opportunities, acquiring more funding, or managing funding and/or recipients, too much configurability can also mean being stuck with a complex system that is expensive and difficult to adjust to changing priorities.
eCivis’ Grants Network is not only easily configurable to a wide range of missions for governments seeking more revenue from grants, but it’s also easy to use. The city of Atlanta saw a huge uptick in grant revenue after deploying the system.
“Not only has eCivis been a critical partner for identifying and soliciting private and competitive grants, but we also saw it as an answer to supporting full lifecycle management for our Entitlement grants program. This year, the City was able to create efficiencies in the entitlement proposal process. eCivis’ project management, knowledge base, customer support, and willingness to adapt enabled the City to achieve its goal in a timely manner. Finally, the ongoing customer support provides a tremendous amount of comfort, as we continue to increase our adoption rate and management efficiencies," said Karen W. Carter, Director of Grants Management for the City of Atlanta.
Analytics and Reporting
Governments must determine the level of financial detail they need to capture for their grant programs. When considering a solution for its analytics capabilities, agencies should ask:
- Does the tool offer visual dashboards and user-defined graphical representations of data?
- Are advanced analytics available?
- Is it easy to do ad hoc reporting?
- Can the solution integrate all of my agency’s financial information?
- Can the solution process data regarding subrecipient (grantee) awards and allocations?
eCivis’ Grants Network offers the nation’s largest database of professionally curated grants to take the heavy lifting out of research for organizations. Additionally, when it comes to analytics and reporting, Grants Network offers a unique Goals & Metrics feature, which enables agencies to visualize and showcase how grants are helping organizations meet their initiatives, goals, and objectives – all in a single dashboard. Organizations can also quickly deep dive into performance for organizational goals (i.e. governor, mayoral, tribal leader) and departmental goals.
For more reading, see Gartner's “Consider Four Key Factors When Selecting a Grant Management Solution,” Alia Mendonsa, Refreshed 22 July 2019, Published 9 January 2018 (Gartner subscription required).
At eCivis, our SaaS-based grant management solution has helped thousands of governments rapidly set up their grants management, distribute funding, and even manage their cost allocation data. To learn more about why eCivis stands out from other grant management solutions, schedule a free demo.