Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Supporting our Community for the Holidays


It’s hard to believe another year is almost over and we’re into the festive frenzy of the holiday season once again. While we all look forward to making merry with friends and family, we also like to make some time to share our good fortune with others.

This season, SmartSimple has been collecting food, toiletries and winter accessories like hats and mitts for the Red Door Family Shelter. In this way, we could provide support to several families at once who need extra support at this time of year. The shelter provides temporary housing, counseling services, child care and a food bank to more than 500 families each year, including women fleeing from violence, those who have been evicted, refugees and young mothers who have nowhere else to turn.

The Toronto team will also be volunteering at the Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club, packing food hampers to be distributed to less fortunate families in the community.
Community Support for SmartSimple users during the Holidays
Our Community Support team will be available to help you over the holidays. Please note that on Friday, December 16, Community Support will be unavailable after 5:00 PM EST.

All times are listed as EST (Eastern Standard Time):

DATE
HOURS
Monday, December 19th
8 am – 9 pm (Regular Hours)
Tuesday, December 20th
8 am – 9 pm (Regular Hours)
Wednesday, December 21st
8 am – 9 pm (Regular Hours)
Thursday, December 22nd
8 am – 9 pm (Regular Hours)
Friday, December 23rd
8 am – 6 pm
Monday, December 26th
Critical Support Only
Tuesday, December 27th
9 am – 5 pm
Wednesday, December 28th
8 am – 9 pm (Regular Hours)
Thursday, December 29th
8 am – 9 pm (Regular Hours)
Friday, December 30th
8 am – 6 pm
Monday, January 2nd
Critical Support Only

As always we will monitor calls to our 501 Critical Line at 866.239.0991 x 501, and emails to critical@smartsimple.com.

From our families to yours, have a very happy holiday season and a safe and healthy New Year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

SmartSimple selected for AWS Public Sector Partner Program


We're proud to announce that we have been officially selected by Amazon Web Services (AWS) as inaugural partners in their new Public Sector Partner Program.

Formally launched at the recent AWS annual user conference, the program recognizes and connects service providers who deliver expert solutions to public sector clients. Ultimately, AWS’s goal is to connect their clients with the right partner that can meet the unique requirements often found with public sector organizations. Only 400 partners worldwide have been selected to join the program.
SmartSimple delivers mission-critical solutions to over 250 clients that include government, education and nonprofit agencies around the world. That’s involved collecting millions of online applications across thousands of application processes.


Michael Reid, SmartSimple Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, comments on our participation in the program:


“Having access to the services of the world’s most trusted cloud service provider has enabled us to offer best-in-class cybersecurity, giving our clients’ peace of mind.”
“Working with the AWS team has been a truly collaborative experience. They’ve opened doors for us, shared unique growth opportunities and industry-leading tools. AWS has been a great partner, and they’ve been integral to helping us power our solutions as we continue to grow. SmartSimple became an AWS Advanced Technology Partner more than 2 years ago. Since then we’ve been awarded statuses as an AWS SaaS Partner, Government Competency Partner, and are now honored to be recognized as a Public Sector Partner.”
Businesses and organizations, large and small, use SmartSimple to simplify and optimize their everyday processes, because our clients want to make an impact – not face the chore of managing redundant, inefficient, manual processes.

Being part of this new program puts SmartSimple in a stronger position to empower even more organizations in the public sector.


Transform the way your organization collects, reviews, and allocates granting with GMS360° - rated by Idealware as one of the highest ranking grants management systems.

Supercharge the way you track every dollar from funding source to grant with Revere - designed specifically for U.S. state agencies.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why process automation is the new black

There’s a lot of talk about process automation - why?
Process automation drives the success of every organization by ensuring the constant movement of workflow. It’s part of your everyday whether you realize it or not. Take your pay stub - the entire process of working out your salary, calculating tax deductions, adding benefits and direct debiting your pay into your account - is process automation hard at work.
 
So why is the granting sector still relying on Post-it notes and spreadsheets to track funding calls and payment schedules?
First, let's back up and explain what we mean by 'business process’. Every organization is driven by processes - even grantmaking. You may not use the term ‘process’, but look close enough and you’ll find a set of processes in everything you do - just think of how you manage grant applications. The question is - are your processes automated - and should they be?   
Why should grantmakers care?
Repetitive, manual tasks aren’t fun. They’re time consuming and cumbersome. That’s why organizations look to automation to simplify crusty processes in need of a good shake up.  
Process automation saves you time and ensures accuracy. It can be applied to any number of processes involving any number of people.

What’s more - automation lets us focus on more important things. By 2025, experts predict automation will take over a third of our roles - and interestingly, 55% of employees feel positively about that, according to a recent study by ADP.
When it comes down to it, a grants management system is really a process automation tool tailored to a grantmaker's key processes. Listening to grantmakers, they tell us that granting can sometimes seem less about impact, and more about staying on top of paper trails. With lots of moving parts, the core functions of managing applications has plenty of opportunities for automation - from tackling heavy admin tasks, to routing the right information to the right people at the right time.
An automated future
It’s only a matter of time before all foundations - with big purse strings and little ones - will be using some form of process automation tool. Never slow to spot efficiency-savings, the private sector has been replacing sluggish processes with automated end-to-end alternatives for years.
Ready for an automation makeover?   
Keep in mind that most great process automation solutions will give you the flexibility to streamline your process without having to adapt it to the tool you’re using. Flexibility is a key value that we hang our hat on at SmartSimple, and it’s something we’re (quietly) proud to brag about.
But don’t take our word for it - have a look at the 2016 ‘Consumer’s Guide to Grants Management Systems’ by Idealware for some independent advice. In it, we came out on top in terms of the flexibility we offer, and came second overall.
To review the findings in more detail, have a look at this infographic we created to summarize the results of the report.  

Friday, November 4, 2016

5 critical first steps to creating better granting outcomes


How do you know you’ve been making a difference with your granting initiatives? That’s what every grantmaker is asking or being asked by their donors, funders and boards. While it’s important to know what you’ve accomplished, it’s even more important to have a solid understanding of how to gather, organize, analyze and share data, in order to ensure your granting activities achieve impactful, measurable results; this is where predictive analytics comes into play.

Predictive analytics uses your data to paint a picture of what is likely to happen in the future. This gives you the insight to make better, more informed decisions; increasing your ability to create positive change. Large corporations, retail chains, marketing companies and even sports franchises have been using this process to successfully forecast outcomes for decades, and it can be an invaluable tool for grantmakers.

Any successful predictive analytics program starts with 5 key steps:

1. Develop a Business Understanding. Identify your current situation and use your organizational goals to create a project plan. This plan will help you decide what constitutes success and will provide you with direction in achieving that success.

2. Develop a Data Understanding. Like most granting organizations, you likely have a large amount of data that you’ve collected over the years. Understanding your datasets is critical in ensuring that you’re properly organizing them for future use.

3. Bucket your Data. Once you know what data you have, you can begin to group your data into different categories. This is an important step because your data buckets will reflect what you want to achieve with your project plan. There are 2 specific variables you need to consider for this type of analytics exercise:
  • Discrete variables, where no group of data is more important or valuable than any other, and
  • Ratio variables, where data can be assigned a rating that is measurable and puts it into a hierarchy (eg. A is better than B).

4. Explore your Data. Step 4 involves extracting the relevant data from your buckets so that  you can identify what will support your project plan and help achieve your goals. Remember, analytics is as much about using the right data as it is the actual collection of it.

5. Create the Data MODEL. The final step is to create a data MODEL. This is where you take a look at the datasets that may be causing some confusion around your results. Predictive analytics is only valuable to the extent that the data you’re using for analysis is the data you should be using to address the questions you’re looking to answer. This last step closes the loop on managing the integrity of your data. As the acronym MODEL suggests, there are 5 key items in the checklist that need to be reviewed:
  • Missing - is there any information that isn’t included?
  • Odd - the data may be correct but there’s a good possibility it’s not
  • Duplicate - are there records of a specific piece of data that appear more than once?
  • Erroneous - there is very clearly an error in the data
  • Logical Error - is there an identifiable error based on the rest of the data collected?


If you're serious about using predictive analytics as a tool and want more detail on where to begin, SmartSimple's Getting Started with Predictive Analytics; A Grantmakers Playbook is an ideal starting point. This valuable resource will get you on the right track to building an analytics program for your organization.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

SmartSimple October 2016 Upgrade Highlights

We’ve got a total of 47 new features and enhancements for our October 2016 Upgrade. That’s 47 more ways we’re continuing to prove our commitment to our clients’ needs.

Of note, we’ve streamlined reporting, created a more intuitive user interface for Arcadia X, and introduced new beta features to strengthen the platform for you and your users.

Reporting Features
Enhanced Neo Report Builder
Creating impactful reports is always a challenge, so we continue to add functionality to our Neo Report Builder tool, working to make the process as painless as possible.
Enhanced Neo Report Builder provides simplified report building
We’ve expanded the number of data sets and fields available based on your reporting requirements. You can now include data for user and company event activities, notes, and status name for an increased range of options.

In-Line Data Grid
This new field type will give you the ability to build an Excel-style grid directly on the page you’re working on without having to open a second window. This is ideal for simple budget creation or data that needs to be presented in a grid format. There is also a separate save button for the page so you don’t have to go in and out of a document to save your information.
In-Line Data Grid offers an easy way to present data in an Excel-like style
Bulk HCAI Submissions
We’ve streamlined the invoice submission process for Ontario insurance clients. Now, you have the option to submit invoices to HCAI in bulk rather than needing to do them one at a time. Your claims administrators will save valuable time and limit the possibility of data entry errors.

Bulk HCAI submissions are now available in SmartSimple
User Interface Features
Arcadia Headers
To improve navigation and save on screen real estate, we’ve made some revisions to the Arcadia X interface. Portal access has been moved up to the top of the page and aligned with the header. Standard Arcadia X features have been consolidated into a single menu icon to make it easier to use and find what you’re looking for. It only takes a single click to see what links are grouped in each window.
A cleaner look for the Arcadia X interface
New Help Icon
Our new help icon will make finding tooltips within SmartSimple easier. Now, instead of underlining content where additional help is available, an easily identifiable question mark icon will pop up so it’s clear where you can access assistance. The icon is accessible whether working on an application, processing submissions for review, or creating reports.

IRS Subcategory Settings and Look-Up Options
A vital part of your granting process is being able to accurately identify the tax standing of your applicants. So, we’ve made two enhancements to assist you when using the IRS database.

The new subcategory settings option offers a more granular view of your applicant organizations. Gain in-depth knowledge on the status of each potential grantee, rather than just seeing a high-level overview.

We’ve also enhanced our IRS database integration from within the sign-up page so you can retrieve as much detail as you need to accurately process your grants. New fields include:
  • Type
  • Foundation code
  • Organization type
  • Status

Privacy Policy Enhancement
You now have the option to require users to accept the conditions of your privacy and other policies before they can access your system. This gives you the opportunity to confirm that applicants fully understand your specific terms of service, requiring them to acknowledge their comprehension before beginning the granting process. This ensures there’s no confusion of what has been agreed to, while managing the expectations of your grantees.

UTA Delete Button

In addition to controlling the level of permissions required by your users to add information to a particular field, being able to manage who can delete information, when and how is just as important. Our enhanced UTA Delete Button offers the opportunity to not just have the option to delete, but to set specific business rules.


For example, your managers may have always been able to delete a grant, but now can only delete specific grants under $1 million or only after a particular date or grantee action has taken place. This gives much more granular control over the precise actions administrators can take when managing your users’ information.

Beta Features
Data Classification
A well-planned data classification system makes essential data easy to find and retrieve. This can be of particular importance for risk management, legal discovery, and compliance. Written procedures and guidelines for data classification should define what categories and criteria the organization will use to classify data and specify the roles and responsibilities of employees within the organization.

Our Data Classification feature provides the power to create any number of data classes within your system and assign them to custom field types. You can now create security policies and attach them to any class of data. This means you maintain complete control of the visibility of field data across your entire platform, making it easy to apply access policies at the global level.

Media Library
In today’s world, digital content/media is accessible and consumable on a multitude of device and browser types. However, based on the capabilities of any given device or browser, file type, and size requirements can differ significantly. That means, in order to review any specific media type, people are required to download and use their own players locally or use links to sites such as Vimeo and YouTube. So how do you guarantee a positive user experience?
Share, review, and annotate with SmartSimple's Media Library
The SmartSimple solution provides a consistent user experience while also limiting copyright concerns. This will make it easier for your users to access and view any media file uploaded to your SmartSimple system. All files will now be optimized for better viewing in any browser, on any device. Users can also review and comment on any media file in the system.


Learn More
Be sure to review all the enhancements on our SmartSimple Wiki to ensure you’re up-to-speed on everything you need to know for our October 2016 Upgrade.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

How SmartSimple is helping change the lives of high-risk children and youth

The numbers don’t lie; children who suffer from untreated mental health issues in their formative years are at significant risk for a future of behavioral problems, unemployment, incarceration and even suicide.
Did you know?
  • An estimated one in five Canadian children experience mental health issues
  • Approximately 60% of incarcerated males in Canada have a history of childhood conduct problems
  • It’s estimated that future costs for a career criminal can be up to $6.5M if no early intervention takes place
It’s why SmartSimple was eager to help Child Development Institute (CDI) and their SNAP (Stop Now And Plan) National Expansion Campaign. “At SmartSimple, we firmly believe technology has the power to do good things, so whenever we see an opportunity to apply our expertise to help an organization meet their goals, we’re happy to facilitate.”
SNAP is an evidence-based intervention model designed to positively change the lives of high-risk children in their middle years, and their families. It was developed by CDI, an accredited children’s mental health agency performing ground-breaking work in developing innovative programming.
Specifically, SNAP was developed as an intervention program for children under the age of 12 in conflict with the law. It has evolved into an internationally-recognized program that focuses on emotion regulation, self-control and problem-solving and teaches children with behavioral problems, and their parents, how to make better choices "in the moment."
“Finding state-of-the-art solutions for dealing with children’s disruptive behavior and lack of self-control can only benefit future generations and make life better for children everywhere,” says Mike Reid, COO of SmartSimple. “SNAP had a clear plan to do good work, and we knew, by sponsoring their National Expansion Campaign, we could support that plan in a tangible way. SNAP was a perfect fit for us, and we for them. SmartSimple’s unique Universal Tracking Application (UTA) not only ensures each child’s case is tracked, pertinent data shared with global researchers, but their confidential information is kept completely private.” SmartSimple has been given the honor of Featured Supporter of the SNAP campaign due to our assistance with their program.
“We are very grateful to SmartSimple for applying their expertise to SNAP,” said Dr. Leena Augimeri, CDI’s Director of Scientific and Program Development and co-founder of SNAP. “SmartSimple has made significant impact on the SNAP National Expansion Campaign by developing SNAPiT – an exclusive service delivery portal which will be used by 140 organizations to track outcome data, create efficiencies in service delivery processes and facilitate communities of practice from coast to coast. As a non-profit organization with a long-term vision for social change, yet with limited resources, this kind of support is essential to our work.
SNAP has proven to be effective and provide significant financial savings to society as a whole. It’s estimated that future costs for a career criminal will be between $1.5 - $6.5M if no early intervention takes place. In contrast, it costs approximately $4,000 for a child and their family to participate in SNAP, representing a savings of close to $150,000 per youth if SNAP is successful.
Ongoing research has also shown:
  • Children ages 6-12 are excellent candidates for learning self-control strategies.
  • Recent research indicates that 68% of SNAP participants will not have a criminal record by age 19.
  • A Benefit Cost Analysis on SNAP showed that there is a $17 - $32 return for every $1 invested in the program.

The following infographic shows clearly how serious the impact of children's mental health issues are on society, and how early intervention can substantially improve young lives:


“SmartSimple is truly pleased to be able to provide the solution to facilitate SNAP’s global expansion. They have an incredible pedigree and we will continue to do whatever we can to help them collect, analyze and report on the data that will assist the future of child development research.”
Be sure to check out the SNAP blog to learn more about how SmartSimple helped CDI and the SNAP initiative achieve their goals.