Managing federal grants can be complex and time-consuming, and winning a grant award can be highly competitive. Having software that can help you navigate these complexities and the intense requirements that come along with it in one integrated system will ensure you have a leg up on your competition. In this article, we will examine the five things to consider when buying software to manage federal grants.
1. Nonprofit Focus
With significant regulatory requirements for using federal funds, having a system in place that is engineered for nonprofits is crucial. Nonprofits have unique workflows and data requirements. Upon being awarded federal funding, nonprofits must deliver and implement regulatory policies governing procurement, reporting, cost allocation, and administration of funds. Relying on a solution not specifically designed for nonprofits can lead to prolonged implementation, delays, and potential non-compliance, which might mean funding reduction or even debarment.
Systems developed for nonprofits will provide all the tools needed to efficiently organize, budget, and track their funds. Among these tools are industry-specific reports like grant/contract dashboards, funding analysis, and fund budget to spending comparisons. Additionally, managing compliance and regulatory requirements is easier because checks and balances are built into the system to ensure measures are met. JAMIS Prime ERP is built for nonprofits, so it provides an intuitive user experience and eliminates the risk of non-compliance and disconnected data.
2. Single Source of Truth
The federal grant process can be time-consuming and convoluted. Having a single source of truth solution, like JAMIS Prime, will allow everyone in your organization to access the same information in a tightly integrated system. This reduces the probability of your executives making decisions based on inaccurate information. By combining business elements such as project accounting, financial management, CRM, and distribution management, you can manage all your business, contract, and grant management needs under one roof.
Additionally, accessibility should be taken into account. Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, the ability to support a mobile workforce distributed across the country or globe has been imperative. Unlike older legacy systems, true cloud-based platforms allow your employees to work from anywhere in the world, on any device. This ease of access ensures you are fostering a connected work environment where all of your employees are on the same page with accurate information, which is critical for success.
3. Core Financials
The method in which a system manages federal grant money is important, so financials should be a foundational piece to consider. Look for products with a complete financial management suite explicitly tailored for nonprofits. These solutions will provide real-time visibility into grant allocations, general ledger, AP/AR, cash management, and tax management. It needs to be a turnkey solution for tracking all direct and indirect expenses associated with grants. Depending on your fiscal year-end, you will also want something that allows you to manage grants even if the grant year differs from the fiscal year. In order to modernize your organization by reducing and eliminating time-consuming manual operations, any ERP you consider should support automated processes and streamlined workflows.
If your nonprofit has multiple locations and entities, finding a solution that supports multi-currency and inter-company accounting will be essential. In a system like JAMIS Prime, users can manually or automatically split grant allocations between companies with different locations and create reports across multiple functional groups within your organization.
Gathering information for various forms like SF-270 (Request for Advance Reimbursement), SF-425 (Federal Financial Report), and IRS Form 990, among others is labor-intensive if you don’t have an adequate system. This often leads to organizations tracking this information manually on spreadsheets thus increasing your probability of costly user errors. A modern ERP built for nonprofits will have pre-configured functionality that allows you to track data needed for these forms in real-time, giving you added time to focus your attention on other business-critical issues.
When it comes to financials, real-time reporting is a must-have in any new system. Users need to be able to retrieve data when they need it and not rely on monthly uploads from spreadsheets. Systems like JAMIS Prime support interactive financial reports and dashboards that allow users to drill further into the report’s details, which builds user confidence that the data is accurate and dramatically cuts back on the time it takes to create reports.
4. Rapid Configuration
The ability to stay agile and nimble is key should business requirements or mission objectives change. We recommend that you seek solutions that are built on low code/ no code architecture as it will allow users to easily adapt to changes, take control of their data, and rapidly configure ad-hoc reports and dashboards for specific needs without any programming experience. A modern system will allow your users to build and adjust reports, sparing you the cost and delay of custom development cycles. This functionality guarantees scalability and supports growth.
Data security is an important concern. Basic security features such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), role-based authentication, as well as those offered by the preferred deployment method should be examined. MFA creates a layered defense against cyber-security, making it more difficult for someone to access your database. Utilizing role-based security allows you to define employee access controls from a high level, down to the individual field level, so your team members only see the items they need to do their jobs well.
Whether your organization deploys in the public or private cloud, knowing the security measures and how the data warehouse is protected are questions to confirm before implementation. The JAMIS Cloud offers best-in-class security for private cloud deployments for nonprofit or government agencies, while AWS provides an additional secure public cloud network option.
Choosing and implementing a software solution to help manage your grants is an important decision. JAMIS understands this, which is why we offer best-of-breed features and functionality to run your nonprofit. Are you interested in discussing your needs and seeing JAMIS Prime ERP for yourself? Please contact us today to schedule a demonstration.
For an overview of JAMIS Prime’s Federal Grant Management solution, take a look at this on-demand video. View Video >