Top 3 Things to Look for in Grants Management Software in 2021

By Jason Peters, Business Development Director | June 7, 2021

Choosing a new grants management software solution is often a lengthy, time consuming task. The potential wasted time and expense of a failed software implementation necessitate choosing the correct vendor and grant management system the first time.

When choosing a new grants management software vendor, you will want to make sure to account for the vendor’s history with grants management, the software’s ability to manage the complete lifecycle of your grants, and the flexibility of the grants management software platform.

1. Grants Management Software Vendors

When evaluating a new grants management software system, you should first evaluate the vendors.

  • How much experience do they have with grants management?
  • Do they have experience in your particular sector, or do they offer a niche product that can’t be adapted to your needs?
  • Is grants management their primary focus, or is this one small product line in a very large portfolio?

The grants management software market has a few long-established vendors with proven, stable systems and decades of experience implementing systems at an enterprise scale. Conversely, the market has seen a recent uptick in small vendors offering management solutions that lack the full suite of features that the are available from the more experienced vendors. While some of these new upstarts may offer lower prices upon initial implementation, their lack of experience can lead to costly delays, frequent rework, and the need to quickly move on to a more established vendor. Conversely, some long-established software companies will state that their platforms can be adapted to meet a grant-provider’s needs. While the company may have software experience, lacking the specific knowledge of grant processes can lead to the same issues faced with the new upstarts.

This evaluation often leads to the selection of vendors with a proven history providing grant management solutions which are similar in size and scope to those that your agency gives. This will lead to an implementation that is completed on schedule and on budget.

2. Platform Ability

Grant Providers must also evaluate the capabilities of the various grant management systems. If your agency requires that software purchases go out to a Request for Proposal (RFP), it may benefit you to view demonstrations of various products (such as IntelliGrants® IGX) first. Some Grant Providers will view demonstrations of various products as part of a Request for Information (RFI). Regardless of method used to solicit product demonstrations, this will allow you to quantify the capabilities of the various offerings which will provide the necessary context to inform the composition of a specific RFP that allows the vendors to see and respond to your exact needs. Too often public agencies issue vague, ineffective RFPs with hard-to-define requirements that lead to generic responses that don’t address the agency’s real-world needs.

When evaluating these vendors, the following considerations should be taken into account:

  • Is the system web based? (i.e. can it be accessed from anywhere that has an internet connection?)
  • Does the system support the grant processes for both competitive and formula grants?
  • Does the system support the processing of grant applications with multiple funding sources?
  • Does the vendor offer their product as an On Premise or Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery model?
  • Can grant applicants provide all required materials within the system both pre and post award?
  • Can my staff review all of an applicant’s materials in-system?
    Review Application Materials
  • Does the system support the following key components of the Grant Management Lifecycle?
    • Grant Applications
    • Application Review and Scoring
    • Grant Contracts / Agreements
    • Grant Amendments
    • Grant Payments (Expenditures, Advances, Distributions, etc.)
    • Grant Reporting (Progress, Performance, Fiscal, etc.)
    • Grant Audits / Risk Assessments
    • Grant Closeout
  • Are there dashboards and reports that meet my needs?
  • Can I build reports on my own?
  • Can I edit my form templates on my own?
  • Is the vendor in compliance with basic security requirements?
    • SOC II compliance
    • ADA compliance
    • HIPAA compliance
    • Adhering to NIST standards
    • FedRAMP compliant infrastructure
  • How easily can this system be integrated with other systems such as the following?
    • General Ledger systems (i.e. PeopleSoft)
    • Legacy Systems
    • Master Data Management tools
    • Geographic Information systems (GIS)
  • Does the system support integration with my Single Sign On solution?
  • Does the system interface with Sam.gov in order to verify eligibility to receive federal funding?
  • Does the system interface with USPS for verification of addresses?
  • Does the system support grant seeking such as an integration with Grants.Gov (https://www.grants.gov)?
  • How does this system help us ensure that our processes and procedures adhere to regulatory compliance requirements?
  • Does the system have a way for me to track equipment or other assets?
  • Can the vendor migrate my existing grant data into the new platform?
  • Does the system have a way for me to track equipment or other assets?
  • Does the system support self service?
    • Are there dashboards and reports that meet my needs?
    • Does the system support configuration of management reports without vendor assistance?
    • Does the system support configuration of grant processes and forms without vendor assistance?
  • Can the system send notifications to users as their grant application and associated processes progress through the process?

Some of these questions may be more important to your agency than others. Discuss with your team exactly what it is your ideal system would do and which processes you would like to automate and ask your prospective vendors to explain or show how their platforms can manage those tasks. The focus of this exercise should be to fully flush out and document your business needs. This will accomplish two very important objectives:

  1. This will help you to ensure that the solution you choose will fully satisfy your business needs.
  2. This will serve as the beginning of the business requirements to be documented when you’re ready to start the implementation of your new IGX grant system.

3. Flexibility

The final major component when evaluating a new grants management platform is flexibility. Some vendors offer completely off-the-shelf systems with minimal configuration or customization available, meaning that the system your agency buys will be practically identical to the system bought by an agency across the country. Agate Software supports the templated approach while also offering a core platform that is configured to your exact needs: every form, document, report, dashboard, and business process is tailored to your exact needs, with your agency’s branding included throughout the system. Agate Software has a comprehensive library of grant systems across the country. In the event that an agency would like to adopt a grant application and supporting processes that are already built and in use, we can simply copy the application that most closely meets the client’s needs. Both options can be valid in different cases; some customers prefer a quick installation and adapting their processes to fit a new software, while others prefer the ability to have a vendor configure a system to their precise needs. There are some important questions to ask about flexibility before procuring a new grants management system:

  • What are our anticipated future needs and how do those align with the available options?
  • Are my business processes flexible enough that they can be modified to fit within an existing grant system or does the grant system need to be flexible enough to be integrated into our current processes?
  • Do I want to be able to have a staff member edit and configure the forms and documents in the system?
  • Do I want a staff member to be able to build reports in the system?
  • Do I want the system to be able to handle additional processes outside of the traditional grants management steps?

Answering these questions prior to engaging in discussions with vendors will allow you to choose the vendor who most closely aligns with your agency’s goals.

Engaging with a Vendor

Once you and your team have decided that you really need a COTS solution with a best in class service provider, give us a call! Agate Software’s IntelliGrants® system is a great fit for those agencies who prioritize quality, flexibility and value. The ground breaking IGX release of IntelliGrants is designed to be the most flexible grants management solution on the market today with its powerful core allowing agencies to have the system configured to their exact specifications. If your agency would like to see a demonstration of IntelliGrants, contact us at sales@agatesoftware.com or 517-336-2500.


Request a Demo

Want to see how IntelliGrants can make your grant management process more efficient? Simply click the button to request a live, web-based demonstration. Agate Software uses live demos to make sure we can answer all your questions as they come up.