What to Look for In Grants Management Software

By Justin Stojsih, Account Manager | April 1, 2020

Choosing a new grants management software solution for your agency is often a lengthy, time-consuming task. With a wide range of options on the market serving a wide variety of grant-giving agencies, choosing the right platform for your agency’s mission-critical grants is of the utmost importance. No government agency or nonprofit can afford the time or expense of a failed software implementation, making choosing the correct vendor and platform the first time a critical decision.

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.

Vendor History

When evaluating a new grants management software system, you should first evaluate the vendors.

  • How much experience do they have with grants management?
  • Do they have experience in your particular sector, or do they offer a niche product that can’t be adapted to your needs?
  • Is grants management their primary focus, or is this one small product line in a very large portfolio?

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 platforms that lack the full suite of features that the more experienced vendors have built. 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-giving agency’s needs. While the company may have software experience, lacking the specific knowledge of the grants management process can lead to the same issues as the new upstarts face.

Your evaluation should lead you to investigate vendors with a proven history with grants that are similar to those that your agency gives. This will lead to a faster, less expensive total implementation.

Platform Ability

Your evaluation should also include what the present capabilities of various grants management systems are. If your agency requires that software purchases go out to a Request for Proposal (RFP), it may benefit you to view demonstrations of various products as part of a Request for Information (RFI) first. This will allow you to see what capabilities various vendors have and then write a detailed, 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, ask:

  • Can the system process both competitive and formula grants?
  • Can the system process grants with multiple funding sources?
  • Can grant applicants send me everything I need in relation to this grant within the system?
  • Can my staff review all of an applicant’s materials in-system?
  • Can the system handle award letters? Contracts? Payment vouchers?
  • Can the system integrate with my accounting solution?
  • Does the system have a way for me to track equipment or other assets?
  • Can the vendor migrate my existing grant data into the new platform?
  • Are there dashboards and reports that meet my needs?
  • Can I build reports on my own?
  • Can I edit my form templates on my own?
  • Can the system send notifications to users about their grant?

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.

Flexibility

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. Other vendors, such as Agate Software, offer a core platform that is configured to exactly your needs: every form, document, report, dashboard, and business process is tailored to your exact needs, with your agency’s branding included throughout the system. 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:

  • Do I want the new system to be branded to my agency’s logos and colorways?
  • Do I want the system to be configured to match my existing forms and processes?
  • Do I want to be able to have a staff member edit and configure the forms and documents in the system?
  • Do I want a staff member to be able to build reports in the system?
  • Do I want the system to be able to handle additional processes outside of the traditional grants management steps?

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.

Engaging with a Vendor

Once you and your team at your agency have decided what path you would like to take, you will need to find a grants management software vendor whose solution meets your needs. For agencies that prioritize the history of the vendor and the flexibility of the proposed grants management solution, Agate Software’s IntelliGrants® system will be a great fit. IntelliGrants is designed to be the most flexible possible grants management solution on the market today, with its powerful IGX core allowing agencies to have the system configured to their exact specifications. If your agency would like to see a demonstration of IntelliGrants, reach out to sales@agatesoftware.com or 517-336-2500 to have an experienced, professional account manager assist you.


Request a Demo

Want to see how IntelliGrants can make your grant management process more efficient? Simply click the button to request a live, web-based demonstration. Agate Software uses live demos to make sure we can answer all your questions as they come up.