Simplifying Your Applications Process

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Every day, we talk with grants program managers — so when it comes to taking your application processes online, we understand what it takes to help you achieve your goals. The team at WizeHive has identified four main goals administrators hope to achieve when taking their application process online:

  1. Increase application inflow (e.g. double or triple the number of applications submitted)
  2. Collect better applications (e.g. more complete applications at time of submission)
  3. Save time (e.g. automate email correspondence with applicants and reviewers)
  4. Save money (e.g. reduce part time staff during peak work loads)

Over the course of this blog post, we’ll review the first two of these four goals and share some simple and easy steps you can take to help you simplify and optimize these areas. If you would like to download our e-book version on this topic and learn about all four goals, click here.

1. Increase application inflow

“I want to collect more applications!” That’s a statement we hear all the time from program managers — and one you may have said yourself.

Program managers are always looking for ways to increase the number of submitted applications, while decreasing the number of submitted applications that are partially complete — looking for ways to increase application quantity and improve application quality.

Start by focusing on how you capture more applications.

Simplify barriers to entry

Reducing any barriers for your applicants is key! You’d be surprised just how many more applications you’ll receive by replacing your paper (or downloadable PDF) application form and allowing your applicants to work with the application form online. In fact, almost 90% of the US population is online… Is your application? (Source: www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/united-states/)

It’s just a matter of getting your application form in front of them. Making it simple, easy, and fast for your applicants to access and complete your application is the #1 thing you can do to increase application intake.

Simplify your form

You can also improve application capture by reducing the number of questions in your application form. Every question you ask in your application is an important one, otherwise you wouldn’t ask it!

Applications with a never-ending list of questions can be daunting for applicants. Cutting down the number of questions in your form (or how many questions your application appears to have) can help. This can be accomplished in two ways:

  1. Conditional Fields – Through the use of conditional fields, you can ask applicants questions and then dynamically display the next question.

    For example, if an applicant indicates that they are a business major, you can dynamically display another question that asks their particular field of study.

    Conversely, if the applicant states that they have a 3.0 grade point average, there is no need to ask them a set of questions that are only relevant for students with a 3.5 grade point average or above.

  2. Pagination – Instead of putting all your questions on a single page, requiring the applicant to continuously scroll through a never ending list of questions, think about breaking your application form up into tabs of questions.

    Reducing the number of questions you ask on each page will make the application look less overwhelming to your applicants.

Simplify your structure

Structure your application by collecting the most important information first. Get your applicants engaged by asking them questions related to your grant, scholarship, or award at the beginning of the application form.

Allow applicants to save a draft of their application and come back to it when they’re prepared to answer new questions, or revise questions they’ve already answered.

Communicate with your applicants over email, ideally from the same application intake platform. Sending an automated email to your applicants that have yet to submit the application they started will certainly increase your application intake.

 

2. Collect better applications

Like many program managers, you’re looking to increase the quality of the applications you receive, too. Looking through unqualified or poorly qualified applications can eat up a ton of time. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

The quality of the applications you receive from applicants is based on two factors:

  1. The degree to which the applicants are qualified for your grant, scholarship, or award.
  2. The substance of the information collected in your application.

Let’s discuss how you can go about tackling both of these.

Simplify using eligibility quizzes

To get the best possible applicants, setting eligibility criteria and pre-scoring applications is a good start. Giving applicants a short eligibility quiz before they’re allowed to complete the full application is a great time saver both for applicants and for you, because it will:

 

  • confirm that applicants are qualified to apply for your grant, scholarship, or award and that they meet any requirements or prerequisites.
  • prevent unqualified applicants from spending their time filling out a form for something they’re not eligible for.
  • save your administrative and review teams from sorting through unqualified or incomplete applications.

Simplify your instructions

Instructions and field input indicators get the best possible information from your applicants. Providing explanations of what it is you’re looking for at each field will help guide the applicant, and help you ensure that you’re getting the right information.

Where you place instructions is a big part in providing your applicants with a clear understanding of what you expect from them. Are instructions located before sign-in / sign-up, at the beginning of the application, or throughout the application form itself? Is the text font easy to read and directive? These are all things to consider.

The type of instructions (text, video, image) are also important. Your goal is to make it as simple and easy as possible for your applicants to provide you with a quality application.

Simplify with conditional fields

Remember conditional fields?  These can help here, too!  To make sure you’re collecting all the necessary information (and the best possible information), conditional fields can allow you to ask follow up questions only to those applicants who need to answer them.

If you would like to learn more about saving time, and saving money…

Download our e-book version on this topic and learn about all four goals.

 

 

Drew Diskin

Drew Diskin is the Chief Marketing Officer for WizeHive. Their grants managements systems allow organizations to simplify their full grants lifecycle with unlimited flexibility. You can find them on Twitter @wizehive.