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PEAK Grantmaking

Reclaim Your Time: Grants Management System Upgrades are the Perfect Opportunity to Reevaluate Processes

Adding or upgrading a software system can take years of research and major financial investments, all with the idea of recapturing time that foundations can use to better serve their audiences. So, why not make sure that new software is working at peak efficiency to get employees out of the back room and out into the community? One of the most effective ways to do that is to pair the installation of new software with an evaluation of your foundation’s processes to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

That evaluation will look different depending on the foundation and the software in question. Small projects may only require an internal discussion, while bigger efforts may benefit from added steps and resources. Whatever form it takes, foundations are united in the idea that process improvement is necessary. In a recent survey of 24 philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, 100% of respondents said process redesign is necessary when adding new software. That redesign, they say, allows them to be more effective and efficient as they serve their communities.

Here are a few questions to answer before diving into that next big software purchase.

How big is your project?

How you evaluate your system will depend on the size of your project. For example, a new Excel spreadsheet only needs basic discussions, but overhauling a grant management system calls for more a more thorough review. For projects bigger than form design, 60% of survey respondents said they got more benefit from implementing a major process redesign than from minimal or no redesign. Going big allowed them to achieve better outcomes, get software in place faster, work more efficiently, and give team members the confidence to ask and resolve questions.

How’s your support?

If your leadership isn’t on board with a new system, process redesign may help convince decision makers that the investment is worthwhile. Half of survey respondents say the best time for process redesign is after selecting a new system and before installation. However, 37% prefer to approach redesign before selecting new software.

Are employees ready?

Change can be difficult, even when it helps employees work more effectively. Training can help ease employees through these transitions. Nearly 60% of survey respondents said they combined process improvement training with their process redesign. All of those respondents said they received significant value from the training — including greater team confidence, skill, and willingness to improve processes — than they would have without training.

Changing processes is challenging. But being smart about how you use your resources will make it easier to navigate this transformation. Once your foundation has a clear picture of its needs and the scope of its project, it can identify the proper steps for getting to its destination — whether that involves a major design or a few simple tweaks.