Embarking on the journey to implement a grants management platform is a significant milestone for any organisation. It marks a transition toward more efficient and organised grant administration. However, this transition is not as simple as signing up for a platform; it’s a process with multiple moving parts that can impact your organisation and the end users of the system.
In this guide, we’ll explore the essential steps and strategies to ensure a successful onboarding experience. The onboarding process isn’t just about getting your staff and organisation up to speed; it’s also about delivering a seamless experience for the individuals and organizations seeking grants from you.
Before diving into this transformative process, take a moment to reflect on your existing procedures. Chances are, you have a wealth of valuable domain knowledge and grants-related materials accumulated over the years. It’s time to review, refine, and adapt what you already have to align with your new digital environment.
In this Article, we’ll guide you through critical areas to focus on during the onboarding process. From evaluating your current materials to setting realistic timelines for rollout, we’ll provide you with actionable insights that can make your transition to a grants management platform smoother and more successful.
Review your current material
Generally speaking organisations that procure a grants management system already have an established process that they have been using for a number of years beforehand.
This means that you most likely have a wealth of existing domain knowledge and grants material that is worth reviewing before diving into your onboarding process. We should take a moment to stop and take stock of what is there, keep the good parts and revise what can be improved.
The most important material to focus on first are existing registration/account information and funding application forms , this is because that will be the first information required when setting up your grants platform.
When moving from a manual process it is likely that this information is all merged within a single form. So take some time to separate out what information should only be entered once when registered vs what should be provided within the actual funding application response. This will be important for reducing duplication and repetition within your new platform.
Following on from there, review your evaluation and assessment framework if you have one.
If this has not been formalised, it might be a good chance to do so or move in that direction. The evaluation data captured will form the basis of your digital decisions within your new grants platform and enable a fair and transparent process.
Review your formal decision documentation such as decision letters as well as contractual agreements. This will likely be loaded into your new grants platform and be marked up to be more “automated” and streamlined than you are currently used to.
Lastly review your reporting and deliverables framework. Although this comes last in the process it is critical for enabling successful reporting within your grants platform. Things like accountability reports, acquittal reports, progress updates, invoice capture and impact reports all fall under this banner and are enabled by the reporting data that is captured.
Work backwards from the end goals of your reporting ( both internal and external ) and from there determine what data needs to be captured from your grantees to generate those reports and achieve your goals.
Seek self service video and documentation training
Even if you have been through a product demonstration it is a good idea to seek out what documentation is available for the grants platform. This could be in the form of text or video support articles or maybe a structured learning program to guide you through the areas of the platform in a more step by step way.
Familiarising yourself with this content will give you a head start when it comes to onboarding and give you a set of tools to be more self sufficient as well as resolve questions without having to book a meeting with your vendor.
Get the most out of your customer success team
If your vendor provides a customer success agent or team to help with your onboarding, be sure to maximise the time that you have with them by asking as many questions as you can, remember there are no silly questions. This will help you to figure out where any holes are in the process and discover all the possible tools and solutions to your problem set.
Tahua generally provides 3 onboarding sessions with a customer success agent to take you through the key stages to go live.
Planning & Roll out
When it comes to your go-live date it is important to work out what your desired date is and to work backwards from there to ensure you have enough time to prepare.
This is where it is key to work with your vendor and stakeholders to determine what realistic timeframes are for the various planning stages. It is important to communicate deadlines and constraints clearly, some things you might want to consider are:
Contractual deadlines for your grant program
Data that needs to be migrated from existing systems
Buffer time for delays in the process
Essential vs non essential processes to be set up for going live.
Do not leave it too late before considering your key dates and communicating these with your vendor as there might not be enough time left to meet desired time frames.