Tuesday, September 25, 2012

SmartSimple's Real 360 CRM

You may have noticed that all of SmartSimple’s product suites are named 360°. The reason is, SmartSimple provides an authentic and holistic approach to tracking and managing what's important to you.

For instance, you can ensure that all information captured in your contacts profile is meaningful to your actual relationships. Grants applicants can upload meeting minutes and financial statements, and you can easily identify those who belong to a given organization (i.e. employer), and those who are associated (i.e. volunteers and board members). In the end, life is simplified because everything you need to capture is done as a by-product of your contact’s interaction with the system.

Further to this, all relevant information is readily available in an integrated system and is online-accessible at any time. And, perhaps the most important aspect of our 360° product line is how an applicant’s profile and organizational profile are accessible at any time from within a grants application, just as one can view and access all relevant applications from a user’s profile.

The below image shows the applicant and organziation attached to a given grant application:
applicant organization-grant

By clicking the applicant’s name in the screen above, we are taken to the profile. Note that a hyperlink to their applications is front and centre.
applicant profile

From the applicant’s profile, we can click into the organization’s profile, and subsequently view all applications associated with that organization.
view applications

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Four Things You Don’t Want in a GMS Vendor

Anyone who has followed the grants management software market over the last few years knows that in today’s marketplace, there are more vendors than you can shake a stick at. While increased options are appealing, they make the challenge of finding the right fit even more burdensome.

When organizations seek out a solution to meet their specific needs, they should be aware of the following warning signs, which show potentially spell danger:

  1. "Sure, we can do anything" – This is a familiar statement from a software vendor who can provide functionality without any real understanding of the intricacies of grants management. Generally speaking, many software vendors produce products with great functionality, and can try to apply them to the grants management space. Unfortunately, they may not be aware of what they don’t know, and in this instance, their customers become guinea pigs. In time, they may realize that removing paper from the process and assigning roles are merely first steps—and considerations need to be made for compliance, eligibility quizzes, multiple statuses, fund integration, and so on.
  2. "Built by grant managers for grant managers" – This declaration is the inverse of the previous, because the area of expertise is grants management, rather than software development. While the downsides of in-house development are plentiful and well-published, there are greater concerns. Firstly, anyone who is familiar with a handful of grant-making organizations knows that differences exist at all stages of the grant-making process. This can include how funds are allocated to grants, eligibility criteria and vetting processes, as well as the use of internal and external reviewers and so forth. Secondly, this situation fits right in with the clichéd ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. How do you mitigate the risks associated with mishandling the technology, especially given the rapid pace of innovation within the software industry?
  3. "We use a CRM/Accounting platform as the base of our GMS" – Initially, there was SaaS (Software as a Service) and more recently introduced is PaaS (Platform as a Service). These terms represent software that is delivered on the cloud, and as with traditional delivery models, this is software designed for specific use. It’s important to understand why exactly the platform was created, as it may limit functionality and flexibility. More importantly, if you’re dealing with a GMS vendor that is using a third party platform, there is a degree removed between you and those who own the technology. Ultimately, this can limit your ability to see requests implemented in upgrade cycles, and it unfortunately affects the sustainability and accountability of the vendor.
  4. "Our solution is perfect for absolutely everyone" – Though we live in a world of endless choice, it’s nearly impossible to locate an option that works for everyone—particularly when dealing with grants management systems. The points of difference across grant-makers include, but are certainly not limited to: size, frequency of payments, focus of grants, areas of operation, funding amounts, etc. Considering this, it’s difficult to imagine a single solution that is right for small foundations, large research institutes, government organizations and everything in between. It’s therefore crucial to seek out a vendor with a segmented product offering that speaks to the needs of a diverse marketplace.