External Funding and Grant Opportunities. "Grant Management System Development"

Professorial Dissertation, 2019

18 Pages, Grade: 80

Free online reading

Table of Contents

1- Background:

2- Appropriate Initial Steps:

3- Market Analysis:

4- Identified External Funding Sources and Government Grants:

5- Gaps and Identified Available Alternatives:

6- Why Grants Management is Critical?

7- Effective Grant Application (Key to Success):

8- Available Tools and Systems for Effective Grants Management:

9- Best Practices:

10- Key Challenges and Risks:

11- Grants Management System Development:

12- Initial Recommendations:

13- Limitations:

1- Background:

Grants (government grants, philanthropic grants, and corporate grants) make up a huge part of a developed country’s economy. The federal/ national government, state/provincial and territory/ local governments, and councils/ agencies are mainly involved in grantmaking. Grants provide critical funding to local governments, and during times of fiscal constraints, the need to pursue grant funding can become even more critical. Worthy grantmakers mostly federal government contributes in meaningful ways to the creation of a fair and prosperous society by integrating public-private knowledge and resources. In parallel successful grantseeking has become a very challenging in the presence of open competition, diverse priorities, changing politics, and stringent conditions of participation. The trend is satisfactory and consistently increasing so far, however, more collaborative efforts are required to maintain this pace and increase the external funding sources.

The public and private sector also contributes to the community as the grantmakers to encourage community participation and increase a sense of ownership. The ‘Our Community Funding Centre’ database tracks more than 3,400 grants programs in Australia last year which indicates that around $80 billion is given away each year. The bulk of it from the government bodies and the figure rising each year to achieve the national and states wide objectives. Approximately 20% of state and federal government expenditure is in the form of grants: grants to welfare agencies, not-for-profit organisations, grassroots community groups, environmental organisations, businesses, and researchers. Over the period, the grantseeking processes, and grant management systems have become more complex measuring the timely financial and physical achievements. Federal as well as local governments, do not want to waste a single dollar on poorly designed, badly articulated, inaccurately evaluated, or inefficient grants programs and systems, therefore effective grant management system and robust application’s processes have become essential for both grantmakers and the grantseekers.

2- Appropriate Initial Steps:

a) Investigate and identify various sources of available external funding (longer-term agreement) and government grants (one-off provision of money) to add values for community as well as grant seekers.
b) Determine an effective system to manage the grants opportunities for a grant seeking firm.

To initiate the necessary investigation and to carry out focused activities accomplishing the targets; regular communications with experienced people who have been involved in external funded projects are crucial for the beginners in grant seeking. While doing so, better insights on the current practices, organisational procedures, market trends, faced challenges, external funding opportunities and the gaps also need to be preliminarily evaluated.

3- Market Analysis:

Prior to developing a grant management architecture, the necessary market analyses need to be carried out to understand the available bucket of grants, competition, local practices, and the accessible grant management systems and effective digital tools. In Australia, it is the government that provides most of the grants funding in the various sector including the water efficiency, sustainability and environment. Grant programs vary widely in their form, scale and degree of complexity. Generally, government grantmakers (national as well as provincial sectors) are impartial, unbiased, and outcomes-oriented and competition is uncluttered for all the grantseekers. Some grant schemes are applicant-driven. This means various groups submit project proposals, and the grantmaker picks the one they like or prefer most. Others are project-driven for which the grantmaker has a specific project in mind and advertises for groups who want to run that project in the expected manner. The Australian grantseeking sector is large, diverse and often reliant on small grants.

The richest sectors, in terms of the grants income, are human services, health and environment. A large fraction of groups in these sectors attracts towards the value of grants amount to more than $100,000 per year. The organisations with the highest win rates are those in the arts and culture, and environment sectors. Notably, those organisations also tend to seek their primary grants funding from local and federal government sources, which have higher median win rates for their grantseekers. Significantly, organisations in these sectors have the highest proportion of grantseekers using references and letters of support to back their applications (arts/culture 75%; environment 80%).

The year-2017 research findings of Australian Institute of Grants Management (AIGM) indicates a fierce competition amongst the grantseekers in Australia. Around 80% of applicants are applying for grants worth less than $5,000 and 40% of grantseekers are relying on state and territory governments for their main grants income. Small organisations can be just as successful as large organisations in winning grants, even though, in general, they apply for fewer per year. For large organisations and setups, state/territory and federal governments are the most common sources of grants funding. State and territory governments, and the federal government are more commonly a prime funding source for large organisations. Mostly large organisations received more than $100,000 in grants from such prime funders in the past year. Small organisations, by contrast, are most commonly funded by local governments. Grants from local governments tend to be much smaller, usually $1000 to $10,000.

It is found that a significant increase in the proportion of organisations relying on local government funds. These statistics encourage territory and state governments to participate in large grants for those smaller competitors reluctantly apply and rarely win. To increase win opportunities and reduce competition, public organisations to collaborate with local research institutions and with other public sectors to effectively utilise and leverage each other’s resources, knowledge and expertise.

Most of the grants and grantseekers used contemporary methods of grant submissions these days, hence an effective grant management framework (planning, decision making, grant administration financial management, and reporting frameworks) complying the contemporary requirements is vital. Based on the market trends, history and the expected financial/ budget allocation tendencies, more portion of external funding is anticipated by the Federation and that would be the larger funding pool for territory and state governments. To engage and participate in future funding opportunities effectively, it is perceived that small public sectors to collaborate more inter and intra-institutionally.

Initial findings have shown that the external grants searches and efforts are not consistently common and integrated with all grant seeking firms. Individual teams are mainly relying on the existing sources of funds and in general contacted by federal government to initiate a project proposal securing further grants. Sometimes, ministerial meetings and discussion in the ministerial committee triggered the initiation of a business case and prospectus development. Budget cycles and political news also provide an indication of future priorities of federal and local governments to proactively construct the funding seeking cases accordingly.

Further, in small size public firms and private institutions, the needs of a systematic grant administration and management process in conjunction with effective record keeping are also vital. It has been observed that separate accounting, auditing, application building, managing and reporting personnel are involved in the overall grant management process. Therefore, more internal collaboration, integration and harmonization are desired to have a consistently accepted quality of grant submission and grant management. Some public agencies being the grantmaker to the local community generally rely on traditional tools such as Excel spreadsheets, e-mails communications and defined folders-skeleton for record keeping and data tracking. Also, some public sectors is already using digital/web-based solutions such as SmartyGrants software as the online grant application service for centralised grant management.

In some cases, small organisations hardly afford a centralised administrative system to maintain the records of grant applications and manage the external grants due to limited budget, staff and operations. Achieving best return on investment (ROI) for implementing and operating centralised management platforms to execute synchronised grant management functions simultaneously, companies to evaluate various grant management options integrated with their enterprise environment (internal operations) and the expectations of key grants providers. On other hand, in large setups, the overall grant management process is in split and managed by different departments and teams in their own styles. The grant applications are often formulated by senior officials, somewhat detached to the executing staff and service delivery partners i.e. sub-consultants and sub-contractors. Though initial commitment and agreements are usually signed by delivery partners prior to the tender submission/ grant application lately, no consistent mechanism of reporting is established to confirm the project performance.

4- Identified External Funding Sources and Government Grants:

Several public funding and external grants platforms are available enabling public sectors to apply for capital, operational, technical assistance and program/ project specific funds matching with its strategic objectives and aligned with territory government’s priorities. International grants and funding opportunities are also to be searched and analysed however, those are specifically for individuals, NGOs, not-for-profit, and community based small scale charity organisations.

Note that all the available or forecast grants/funds are not for local or state governments. It has been observed that most of the grantmakers incline towards the individual, unincorporated associates, not-for-profit, local businesses with DGR (deductible gifts recipient) components, and the research institutions. Previously some grants which were allocated to only territory/state governments are now also open for local businesses, not-for-profit and individuals for better and fairer competition. These recent changes direct small size public sectors to work collaboratively in achieving more comparative advantage and collating a diverse expertise pool in the grant applications.

5- Gaps and Identified Available Alternatives:

In addition to a firm’s core services, businesses as usual, and the previous grants sources, the grant management team also needs to look for gaps in the local market and further explore the available options to contribute collaboratively with existing players. Following alternatives are identified which may provide small scale public sector further opportunities to seek capital and economic benefits in the research orientated projects to create and add values for local community:

5.1 Cooperative Research Centres Program:

The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program supports industry-led collaborations between industry, researchers and the community. The program is a proven model for linking researchers with industry to focus on research and development towards use and commercialisation. The matters identified by the Australian Government as areas of critical importance for research include food, soil and water, transport, cybersecurity, energy, resources, advanced manufacturing, environmental change and health. The aim is to foster high-quality research to solve industry-identified problems through industry-led and outcome-focused collaborative research partnerships between industry entities and research organisations.

There is a chance for experts, researchers and field staff to collaborate with the existing research organisations sharing project-specific resources and knowledge to expand a grant seeking firm’s vision and increase further linkages towards potential funding opportunities. The limitation of CRC projects and programs is that it does not allow public institutions as suitable lead applicants, therefore, we can only participate with other research institutions as partners to resolve some industry-based issues related to environment impacts. The grant amount under the CRC program varies from $100,000 to $3 million with a maximum grant period of 3-years to achieve the agreed milestones.

5.2 Linkages Program:

The Linkage Program promotes national and international research partnerships between researchers and business, industry, community organisations and other publicly funded research agencies. It provides a wider research platform for multiple organisations to work collaboratively and get benefits from each other’s expertise and resources. By supporting the development of research partnerships, the ARC (Australian Research Council) encourages the transfer of skills, knowledge and ideas as a basis for securing commercial and other benefits of research. The Linkage Projects grant opportunity supports projects which initiate or develop long-term strategic research alliances (up to 10-years) to apply and acquire new knowledge for securing commercial and other benefits.

The ARC supports the research initiation and/or development of long-term strategic research alliances between higher education organisations and industry and other research end-users, in order to apply advanced knowledge to problems and to provide opportunities to achieve national economic, commercial, environmental, or social benefits.

5.3 Philanthropic Grants and Assistance:

There is great interest in philanthropy but a general lack of the opportunities available for giving, and limited knowledge of how to go about it. Philanthropy Australia estimates that there are approximately 5,000 foundations in Australia giving between 0.5 to 1.0 billion dollars per year. Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN), which works primarily with grantmakers, with the vision of improving the conservation and functioning of Australia’s environment shares that most grant-making trusts and foundations require grantseeking organisations to be endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as a Tax Concession Charity (TCC) and/or as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR). Further, philanthropic foundations and trusts are the most difficult source to score from, with organisations that rely most on them for funds citing win rates of just 40%. By contrast, local government funders are the most likely to distribute funds to an applicant, with a 60% win rate for the organisations that depend primarily on them.

Medium to large scale public sectors in general aren’t relying largely on the philanthropic grants and assistance, therefore chances of win are marginally low and also the little grant amounts do not suit medium-large size setups. Having said that, the subject matter experts and field staff may offer philanthropic services to external entities in term of time and sharing resources and technical knowledge to enhance research collaboration and then exploit further opportunities demanding their principal contribution.

5.4 Intra-Institutional Collaboration and Partnerships with Other Public Sectors:

Several research opportunities are available for various public sectors to work collaboratively with the local research institutions and also each other to find the innovative solutions of complex problems related to the environment, climate change and human health. Together, different public departments can conglomerate diverse expertise and investment assets to participate in more challenging projects and larger programs. There is a great need that different public sectors must combine their research efforts and the knowledge to have better research outcomes and efficiency. Such institutional arrangements and mutual collaboration would be advantageous to increase capacity building, knowledge sharing and gain comparative advantages to attract more external funding and openings for inter-institutional partnerships, especially with other public sectors.

Limited research has been conducted on baseline climate-health relationships and on climate change risks to human health. Significant gaps still exist in the community and institutional understanding of likely health impacts of climate change and the improved healthy environment, especially at the local level, and the current knowledge remains fragmented. The lack of well-developed health-related surveillance systems and deficit of expertise in data management are significant limitations on the capacity to monitor and cope with the health impacts of the surrounding environment and the climate change. To find the answer, cross-sectoral adaptation strategies including emergency responses, and disaster management are required. Community and local level engagement and input are also essential in developing effective, equitable and culturally acceptable adaptive policies to enhance awareness of potential impacts on human health of the better-quality environment and climate variability and change.

6- Why Grants Management is Critical?

Grant management is definitely time-consuming and complicated involving different sets of expertise and skills. Managing the grants can be stressful with high commitments meetings delivery deadlines and project performance. Grant management includes strategic planning, developing processes, efficient grant design, program development and effective tracking, and having sufficient resources to smoothly manage the grant chain. Grant management means working with all the key stakeholders/main contributors in organisation to develop their strategic objectives around grants, identify grant opportunities, implement specific grant structure, evaluate successful projects, and streamline future proposals. Vice versa, a poor grants management strategy can result in a failed program, returned funding, potential liability, intensive auditing, or a severed relationship with potential financial associates/external grantors.

To win more grants, companies need to create a collaborative environment in their departments and build relationships with more grant-making institutes. If firms have a better grant management system in place then they can better focus on their priorities. There are numerous and stringent regulations and requirements with federal government grants. Failing to understand and comply with these regulations may result in funds cut and poor repute and relationships with grantors leading to lower chances of future grants win.

A centralised grant management system is essential to integrate different processes along the value chain and individuals’ efforts from different departments and business units to make the grant management system effective and operational for multiple users. A centralised system linking various processes starting from grant selection planning, application initiation to project award and then managing the project performance to the final delivery and invoicing, is a bit challenging in the current operational and reporting structure. Having a centralised structure does not necessarily mean companies have mature grants processes, and vice-versa. Process maturity is defined by having well-defined, repeatable processes that are understood, practiced and optimised throughout the organisation.

7- Effective Grant Application (Key to Success):

Effective grant management starts from the appropriate grant selection based on operational decision matrix, development of grant application, and the first communication with the grantors/ grantmakers. Small to medium size public sectors to be proactive in the grantseeking activities because the competition is fierce particularly, in the presence of research-orientated institutions and not-for-profit organisations. To increase the win chances, organisations need to be competitively innovative in their grantseeking applications in general and grant management processes overall. The subject-area specialists have shared that grant applications are often considered and weighted against an overarching evaluation criterion, developed by the grantmakers and mainly focusing on:

- Capacity to deliver: capability and experience to achieve some or all of the objectives of the project.
- Ability to meet project priorities: the services, expertise and resources to meet the priorities of the grant project, and address the target issues.
- Ability to meet community needs: the services, expertise and resources to meet the needs of the community and make a difference to the target groups.
- Value for money: the cost of the services, expertise and resources represents fair expenditure, relative to the outputs and outcomes to be delivered.

When preparing a grant application, a grant management team must carefully understand the offered grant program, ensuring their eligibility and alignment with their vision and strategic objectives without hindering the agreed/committed local government’s priorities. Following the best practices, companies can improve their grants win opportunities. A good grant application effectively addresses the selection criteria by clearly demonstrating the above four (4) key points and including the below illustration as suggested by some experienced grant managers:

- Demonstrate a broad understanding of the objectives of the funding
- Propose a comprehensive service delivery model
- Establish an understanding of the target group(s) or community
- Provide evidence of unmet need in the target group(s) or community
- Demonstrate experience delivering the required activities/services on time
- Develop proposal represents value for money
- Outline strong governance processes
- Demonstrate collaborative approaches especially with local community and partners
- Propose monitory, evaluation reporting, invoicing and continuous improvement approaches
- Skilled/trained staff and development support available
- A plan for ongoing delivery of services
- References previously received and effectively administered government funding projects

If required, grant management team to also develop a business case or a specific project proposal to further support grant applications articulating at least the following as recommended by grant management specialists:

- What the social need is for the project
- Who will be the targets group(s) of beneficiaries who would benefit from the project
- What will be the target issue(s) addressed by the project
- How the project is aligned with the government’s strategic intent
- What quantum of funds will be required to finance the project
- What the source(s) of funds will be to finance the project
- What input(s) will be consumed by the project
- What outcome(s) should be satisfied by grantmakers for the beneficiaries of the project
- What output(s), and how many units of them, should be satisfied by grant providers for the beneficiaries of the project
- What change is expected as a result of the project, and what the consequences of not creating the project would be
- Whether the objectives of the project will be achieved in a cost-effective manner, or could be better addressed by a financial arrangement other than a grant
- When a project will start and end, and when within the applications should be accepted;
- Whether similar Federal projects exist, and if so a) the degree to which these have been successful, and b) whether the proposed new project will complement and not duplicate or conflict with existing projects.

8- Available Tools and Systems for Effective Grants Management:

Grants management is a challenging and laborious process which mainly require administrative and techno-commercial expertise and somewhat project management skills. In the presence of delivery partners, the project management knowledge areas can be enhanced and grouped with the in-house capabilities. There are many important steps before and after the actual granting of funds. The most important part of the process is picking a suitable funding program and/or grant suited to existing enterprise values, vision and strategic objectives. Also, there are many ways to make the grants lifecycle more efficient by implementing the digital platform like GMS software, dynamic excel sheets (smartsheets and philanTRACK) and the integration of different teams’ efforts in a single centralised platform.

It has been seen that completing a grant application often take a long time; several weeks, or even months; because the applications require everything from organisational information to explanations of proposed work in the shape of multiple deliverables. Sometime, to achieve submission of grant application on time, external services were also hired in near past to expedite the process. Moreover, when the applications start pouring in, reviewing those can also be a challenge with necessary modifications and incorporation.

8.1 Grants Management System (GMS):

A grants management system must provide a single, centralised system to help managers to administer their grants through the entire grants lifecycle. Properly tracking all of the relevant activities is critical to mitigating financial risk, avoiding audit findings and efficiently managing all of the grant activities. A grants management system ensures accountability and alignment of grant activities relative to organisational priorities, with reliable tracking of grant and project financials, project goals, and performance metrics. A grant management system will also store all of the related files to avoid the common challenge of trying to track them down when we need them. Implementing a comprehensive grants management system with functionality including grant research, grant application, process workflow, and award management and tracking outcomes is a need of many grantseeking organisations in Australia. Such digital platforms centralise all grants management processes through a single online system, to allow tracking, monitoring and reporting on all grants management requirements via automation.

8.2 Grants Management System Selection Criteria for Digital Application:

Experts suggest the following points to be considered prior to selecting and implementing a digital solutions i.e. the web-based platform that supports the management of the entire grant life-cycle for grant management in any organisation.

- Experience with Local Governments: GMS must have good references and a history of successful implementations among local governments.

- Simplicity: GMS that integrates with the existing financial system allowing to manage both programmatic and financial grant data and eliminates duplication of effort.
- User Adoption: GMS to focus on effective implementations that lead to high user adoption.
- Customer Support: technical support and training to provide dedicated support.
- Grant-Seeking Support: features that allow to easily find relevant grant opportunities, and manage tasks, create approval workflows, and provide grant application development tools.
- End-to-End Grants Lifecycle Support. GSM allowing local governments to manage both grantor and grantee activities in both the pre-award and post-award phases of a grant.

9- Best Practices:

The identified best practices for successful grants management are associated with the following checklist, systems, policies and practices those are essential items of effective grant management:

- Grant management framework
- Application development and submission procedures (pre and post tender)
- Monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement framework
- Accounting internal controls
- Cash Management
- Budget Controls
- Records Retention Policy
- Procurement system and internal controls
- Personnel System that complies with all laws and regulations
- Timekeeping system
- Property Management System
- Auditing policies and procedures that meet standards

Staying up to date with grant management trends and the best practices by reading related articles and blogs on Grant Professionals Association and GPA Chapters, and National Grants Management Association. Also, during the development and submission of grantseeking application, the following facts should be carefully considered:

- Keep a record of the grant applications, prepare applications in advance of the closing dates and times, and check the website regularly for updates.
- Demonstrate a clear understanding of the need for the funded activity in an identified community and/or for an identified target group
- A grant application should demonstrate that there is a strong need for the proposal in the identified community and/or for the target group.
- Describe the recognised links with the community or target group including established relationships with stakeholders, relevant organisations, clients, and other service providers.
- Demonstrate relevant experience in effectively developing, delivering, managing and monitoring activities to achieve activity objectives for all stakeholders.
- The project proposal should clearly define the way in which firms plan, develop, deliver, manage and monitor their proposed service or project.
- Demonstrate organisation’s capacity and the related staff capability (experience and qualifications) to deliver the activity objectives in the identified community and/or for the identified target group.
- The project proposal should also demonstrate the relevant expertise, skills, qualifications and experience of the project team and/or delivery partners
- Continuous improvement and evaluation of the day-to-day management and quality of organisation
- Outline the governance arrangements for the proposal and demonstrate that governance principles and processes to support service delivery are in place across all aspects of the organisation.

10- Key Challenges and Risks:

Nearly two-thirds of grantseekers say they are facing pressure over the need for increased outcomes reporting. It may not be a surprise to some in the sector that there’s a strong feeling about time pressure for grant application submission too. The biggest challenge is the open competition for funds and acceptance of grant applications after putting enormous efforts to build a competitive application. The situation becomes further worse for those organisation without having a proper grant management system in place and also the teams are not dedicated with clear responsibilities to identify, develop, manage and control grant administration. Further, in the absence of single centralised and homogenous grant management system, it is always hard to track the documentation records and measure project performance.

Development and implementation of a grant management system will certainly provide a systematic easiness in different processes/ chains of grants management from initiation to closure however, the adaption of new system might have undesirable outcomes related to different levels of readiness to accept changes (reluctant to adopt a technology solution). Further, uneven integration of older versions of Windows and Microsoft Office Suits with the latest versions of grant management digital solution available online in the market would also be a bit challenging.

As grant requirements become more complex, organisations need help managing the entire grant cycle, from discovering new funding sources to measuring the outcome of the programs, projects, departments and sub‐recipients that received the money. Organisations with fewer and/or uneven resources may have a lesser staff dedicated to planning and finding suitable grant opportunities, improve related processes, update grant seeking and research collaboration strategies and the management of the overall system. Some organisations are large and segmented and unable to react agilely to the required novel changes that could positively impact grantseeking especially, the collaborative solutions and participatory research in the local market. It may also the case that one team will utilise tools and systems that are incompatible and inconsistent with those used by others in the same division/ department.

Scattered teams in autonomous units with different skills sets and varied separate systems, uneven processes and self-priorities may result in the inefficient processes for grant management. The solution lies in weighing pros and cons of switching traditional methods of grant management to a new approach, and by alleviating the concerns that can come up when implementing software that’s designed to be used by multiple people with different roles to consolidate grant management. Further, in the absence of centralised control and grant management, it is also challenging to keep the same level of accuracy and work quality. The risks could be the duplication of works and improper allocation of resources.

Moreover, identifying what risks are associated with a grant application is a critical task in the appraisal process. Some risks can be adequately mitigated during the establishment of the grant project through careful planning and design, however, others require consideration at the application appraisal stage which can be minimised having a central system in place to avoid repetitive errors and irregular information and distorted communications. Further risks are associated with the adoption of a digital system which has not been tested and might require customisation to properly assimilate with the developed grant management architecture and associated processes. Such identified or hidden risks can be either eliminated or controlled by an appropriate risks mitigation plan developed in coordination with subject matter specialist and/or experienced staff in this area.

11- Grants Management System Development:

Successful grant management starts with the end in mind. Grant management starts when we design a potential project in the strategic planning phase and is included as we move to grantseeking and then from the time we are awarded the grant to the final grant closeout a report. In developing an effective grants management system, following are the essential steps as a basis towards developing a customised grant management system in an organisation:

- Identification of internal resources with background knowledge in external grantseeking and ongoing grant administration in the organisation;
- Collect relevant data, history, feedbacks and solutions to improve the current practices;
- Nominate staff with grant administration and project management capabilities to help in developing a centralised grant management architecture while, focusing on new opportunities, collaboration with local institutions, and coordination amongst the teams. Alternatively, transfer these dedicated roles and responsibilities to the Business Development Unit inside parent organisation;
- Allocate specific roles and responsibilities for the centralised grant management arrangement under the future business development unit to develop and manage future grants and build inter and intra-institutional collaboration enhancing research and knowledge is aligned with the organisational strategic objectives;
- Devise a timeline for establishing a new system and ensure compliance with local government/ territory’s frameworks and the best practices;
- Start developing, defining and adopting grant management processes including decision matrix and the selection criteria among immediate stakeholders and Core Services Team and then establish the framework to test.
- Keep segregating the accounting, administrative and the management functions of the grant management system with integration of basic information to the best fit to the current organisation’s operational structure enabling to measure project efficiency and progress.
- To gain maturity, keep improving the original grant management structure by gathering the feedbacks, lessons learned and applying the best practices (Grant management structure and maturity are not the same but interdependent).
- If possible, implement digital solution/ online grant management tools with the necessary training to transform traditional grant administration to the contemporary practices helping in better grant management and the record keeping.
- Nominate grant leads (Core Services Team) from each wing/department of a grant seeking company to coordinate and participate in the grant application development as part of project proposals.
- Create a separate and specific e-mail for communicating external grantors and subscribing online grants websites and other funding platforms as identified above.

The actual selection of grants would be made based on the organisational strategies and grant decision matrix i.e. subjective (external needs) and objective (internal wants) selection criteria. While developing such criteria, creating administrative processes and adopting the best practices, Business Development Unit (BDU) to engage all key stakeholders within the organisation to seek suggestions and concurrence to the grant management framework. The primary processes involved in developing, maintaining and improving a grantseeking calendar are explained as follows in the below flowchart:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure-1: Development of Grant Calendar

The information, data, and suggestions would be shared between existing key players currently or previously associated to the grant seeking and administration processes with the future BDU team to synthesize the ideas and then transform into a practical grant management architecture. Below figure illustrates the dissemination of information and ideas linking to the development of relevant procedures, framework and the overall grant management system:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

12- Initial Recommendations:

Based on my early discussions with experts involved in the external grants seeking and handling Federal funded projects/programs, personal exploratory research, coordination with other departments’ officials, and the communication with the digital solution providers of grant management system, following primary recommendations are made:

- Collate in-house knowledge, valuable suggestions from experienced staff with previous grants and funding experience to improve the existing practices and develop new processes;
- Combing and linking the previous grant seeking records and create a grantseeking register;
- Trial demos of excel based grant management system and the online web-based solution to evaluate the functions, and integration possibilities with current and future operations.
- Engage with Core Services Team to seeking their insights about potential changes to the current practices and further suggestions
- Invite digital solutions providers to deliver their products’ presentation on GMS to understand the grantseeking software solution, integration options (IT, administration, accounting and reporting procedures) and negotiations etc.
- Compare Excel based GM program and the GMS digital solutions (online hosts + installed software) for grantseeking application, administration and management of processes.
- In case, the existing or developed grant management processes are found complexed and single Excel worksheet cannot easily track the records and administrate the teams’ inputs, then a digital solution would be the better choice.
- If similar grant seeking activities are being carried out by different wings of a large corporation having multiple and diverse functional disciplines, then a Centralised Grant Management Office having dedicated grant staff to cover the whole business would be economically advantageous. Centralised office can eliminate duplication of effort among departments with standard reporting and uniform processes which may help in cost reduction and frees up staff time for other functions.
- In addition to the current exploration, there is also a need to develop a uniform project planning and management system with consistent processes and templates to follow amongst all managers in a grant seeking organisation. Therefore, the next step of grant management system progress must be the development of common project management tools.

13- Limitations:

This is an exploratory study to investigate available external funding opportunities, identify reliable sources of external funding and determine effective grant management system to develop, administrate and manage the grant processes for public sector organisations. Initial recommendations are made based on the preliminary evaluation of current practices, faced eminent challenges, identified gaps, discussion with senior staff, and the communications with digital solution providers.

Practical implications and challenges are present in the shape of un-tested administrative grant model, undeveloped grant management framework, inadequate experience and lack of coordination amongst team players. Further research is required to develop an actual grant management framework and structure to effectively integrate with existing operations and enterprise priorities. This would principally be depended upon the configuration of grant management centre, dedicated roles and responsibilities to selected stakeholders, necessary adaption of the grant management system (traditional or digital), and the actual efforts towards nominating grant management team (BDU and Core Service Team) and possible change management in the organisation.

18 of 18 pages


External Funding and Grant Opportunities. "Grant Management System Development"
University of Canberra
Grant Management
Catalog Number
external, funding, grant, opportunities, management, system, development
Quote paper
Engr. (PMP, CPEng.) Muhammad Yasir Arslan (Author), 2019, External Funding and Grant Opportunities. "Grant Management System Development", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/463271


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