Grantmaking is a very difficult process that can easily be improved with technology. Most organizations are aware of grant management software, but a lot of smaller foundations don’t realize they can find a solution that’s within their budget. As more companies enter the market using cloud-based systems, grant management platforms are increasingly scalable, which means foundations of any size can find a cost-effective solution that fits their needs.

Come up with a list of requirements of grant management software

Once organizations have come to the conclusion they need a grant management system, many are overwhelmed by the next step: choosing a vendor. It’s important not to jump into this process too quickly. Because new vendors are entering the grant management space frequently, there are a wide variety of solutions available, and not all of them will necessarily meet your needs.

According to the National Center for Family Philanthropy, you need to consider all aspects of the grantmaking process, from applications to review. What key metrics do you need to measure? Each foundation has different information to keep track of. Before you even begin looking for vendors, decision-making foundation staff need to sit down and brainstorm the most important attributes of a system. What do you absolutely need? What can you do without?

Ask for demos

Once you have identified your needs and wants, you can start contacting vendors to give demos. Based on the list you have created, come up with a number of questions you’ll ask companies that are based on different functions used during the grantmaking process, NCFP suggests. If there is a key step you take during the cycle, ask about it directly and see how the platform would accommodate this need. For instance, if you require certain reporting measures from grantees at a certain time in the cycle and want a way to automate the communications process, this is something to bring up. Make sure you touch on all of your questions and don’t be swayed by exciting functionalities that you weren’t looking for in the first place.

Tips for the interview process

Another important consideration is the ongoing relationship you will have with this vendor. Ideally, its representatives will provide sufficient training and be able to add new functionalities should you want them. In other words, having an accommodating vendor who knows the work foundations do is really important to the success of a platform. Ideal ware compares the process of selecting a vendor to speed dating. There’s a communication aspect in addition to the product itself.

For one thing, it should be a red flag if vendors interrupt your questions during a demo, or give you answers that aren’t relevant to the questions that you actually asked. If they reschedule a demo appointment several times, you may want to reconsider if you want to talk to them at all. If they act this way before you’ve purchased their product, how will they behave once you’ve partnered with them?

In the end, you need to look for two things: a platform that meets your outlined needs, and a vendor that will help you make the grant management software successful.