Why SmartSimple's form creation process is better than other grants management systems

Creating forms, whether they be grants applications or funding status reports, within any database system is easy. Just as long as everyone is meant to see and fill in the same fields on the same form.

However, in the world of grants and research management, this is not the reality. Grant seekers need to see one version of the application form when they apply for funding. Staff need to see additional fields in their version (in the old paper-based world this would be labelled “for office use only”). Then, of course, additional fields are needed for the reviewer that may not contain all the visible fields that staff need to see and use. Add post-award reporting forms, site visit forms and payment request forms to the mix and you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.
It’s all about resource efficiency
This becomes a full-time job for someone just to develop, design and update all these applications if you’re using what’s known as a form-based system.

A form-based system uses static form fields, meaning that if you want a field to somehow be different for different users, you need to duplicate the entire form. Someone needs to dedicate their time to managing all fields and all versions of your form that contain variations of those fields. The downside is, with so many potential versions, the potential for errors increases exponentially, not to mention that users wind up seeing odd gaps in their online forms where fields have been blocked from their view.

And, at the end of the day, many organizations just don’t have the bandwidth to dedicate a single resource to this kind of work. So the question is, do you really need to dedicate this amount of effort for a successful online application process?

Not if you opt to use an object-based system instead.
Centralize and simplify with dynamic flexibility
With an object-based system, forms are dynamic rather than static, meaning that fields seen in any form are based on role, permissions, status and form type. For example, a grant applicant will only see the fields they need to successfully complete their application. Additional fields that a reviewer may need to evaluate the application will not be visible to the applicant, only the reviewer.

SmartSimple uses an object-based system because it’s so dynamic, offering greater flexibility for our clients:
  • Only one master form is needed containing all required fields
  • The more powerful field permission management in an object-based system provides greater flexibility in form construction
  • You control what roles and permissioned users can see which fields
  • You control both the record and form type
  • Changes in statuses only need to be done once rather than multiple times for each role
Object-based systems also ensure the view of any form fields are current to the status of the application. This means whoever has access to view a particular application (grantee, grants manager, grants administrator, reviewer) is seeing the latest form version of that application.

And the benefits?
The benefits are significant in terms of time required to initially configure and manage the system.
  • Forms with dynamic fields that can be changed quickly and easily without needing to know complex logic or programing languages
  • Since there’s only one form to manage, your staff have more time for higher value activities
  • Needing to manage a single form lessens redundancies and chance of errors
  • There’s no limit to the number of fields you can create so your forms reflect your applicant requirements

See the advantages in action!
If you’re ready to take your grants or research application process to the next level and discover the advantages of taking your grants management system into the cloud, contact us for a demo of how SmartSimple’s object-based grants and research management system can save your organization time, money and resources.

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