Managing procedures like processing grant applications and donations take up a lot of time and energy for staff. While providing services like grants is likely central to what your organization does, it’s important not to get bogged down in administrative procedures, especially now that sophisticated platforms exist that can manage them for you.

A blog from Idealware demonstrates how nonprofits can benefit from embracing technological innovation. While many of these organizations consider digital tools to be out of their reach, this doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, platforms like process, application, document and donation management solutions are accessible to organizations of all sizes. On the other hand, you may be well aware of how these solutions could transform your daily routine, but just don’t know where to start. It can seem daunting to start a project like this, but the sooner you begin, the more quickly you can benefit from streamlined procedures and more free time to work on the tasks that matter most to your organization.

Assess your organization

Before you start researching products, determine what the individual needs of your organization are. What paper-based processes take up the most time? Do you still use physical record storage in filing cabinets? Is your business management program difficult to use and taking up valuable resources? If you are on the lookout for a new way of doing things, chances are, you already have a pain point you need to solve. Conduct an audit of your administrative processes; what could potentially be automated or updated with technology? What are your inefficient and outdated processes currently costing you in terms of time, money and ability to properly help your applicants and staff?

Think about the big picture

When you’re assessing the procedures in your office that could benefit from an upgrade, don’t leave anyone out. A government guide to implementing electronic health records recommends thinking about the future and all the people who would interact with a new system. For example, if your organization provides grants for nonprofits, you may need to automate your current business management system, especially if you’re still relying on paper applications and processing. In this case, think about how everyone will interact with the software, including applicants themselves. What features would a system need to accommodate all these individuals?

Learn about the resources available

It can be hard to stay up to date with the most recent innovations, but you can use old-fashioned means to do it. Next time you visit a conference or workshop, have a conversation with your colleagues about what kinds of solutions they are using. Are there any products they would absolutely recommend? People who work in the same arena as you are the most likely to have the kind of insight you need. Do you have online communities where you could ask?  Find a way to get ideas beyond what a Google search will tell you.

Taking these three steps should give you some materials to work with, so you can move on to the next stage: doing in-depth research to find a system that will work for you, and finding the resources to get started.