From teens on Facebook to SaaS adoption, everyone is going online.
For some organizations the motivation for SaaS adoption is the inherent cost savings, for others it is the ability to access their work from any computer with a connection to the internet.
Regardless of the motivation, smart decisions are what will ultimately make a software investment worthwhile. As a software vendor we have listened to the needs of countless grant makers and have been able to draw a few key considerations.
By ensuring that the following are some of your top criteria, you'll have a useful system and not a headache that requires your attention day in and day out.
1. Flexibility: This is perhaps the single most important factor in selecting a grants management software solution. All software vendors know that a grants lifecylce typically begins with an LOI and ends with some sort of outcomes assessment, but only a select few understand that there are many ways to get from A to B. To this end it is crucial that you are able to keep the processes that you currently employ and are already familiar to your staff and/or volunteers.
A few specific questions to ask are:
a) How much programming will it take to get our system to behave the way we want?
b) How many user types and workflows can I create?
c) How many plugins and modules do we need to purchase before the system actually works?
The answers to these questions will be able to give you an idea of the degree of extra costs involved in getting the system to work as promised.
2. Integration: In this day and age there is a software solution for every problem and most of these are available on line. The big problem is that many of these solutions work differently from one another. This means that you not only have to pay multiple vendors and have to remember countless passwords but you also have to engage in extra labour to coordinate all sorts of information. Some of the better solutions contain functionality that is not exclusive to grant makers but extremely useful never the less.
Some questions you should ask are:
a) Can your system help me manage all of my contacts?
b) Can your system integrate with software I use everyday?
3. Sustainability: The last thing anyone wants is to be dealing with a vendor that goes out of business. This means you end up sitting on brick that is not supported and that others no very little about. That's why it's important to not only ask for some examples of existing clients, but to also for some references. You might be surprised by the number of clients that are looking to jump to a better solution. This of course does nothing to guarantee the vendor's sustainability.
To be sure this is by no means a complete list, but rather some important points that we have picked up from some of our clients horror stories. The best way to make an informed decision is the same as it has always been. Consult with your community, shortlist the best options, request a demo, ask the important questions and above all...don't bow to pressure...selecting grants management software is a big decision that can impact your organisation for years to come.