If you are considering a new grants management system and your organization funds research, understand that there are significant differences between generic platforms and platforms that focus on research.
Grants management systems have evolved over the past two decades to facilitate the transition of paper grant submissions to electronic. Organizations have evolved as well over time to expect a myriad of features and functionality. There is a standard lifecycle process that most organizations desire, and most vendors deliver in their platforms which includes at a high level:
- Application Submission
- Peer Review
- Grant Award
- Post-Award Management
- Grant Closeout
On the surface, it might seem that most of the systems in the market generally have the same capabilities. They facilitate the intake of applications, enable them to be reviewed and evaluated, and provide the mechanism to award the grants and monitor them over the life of the grant. As with most software platforms, the vendors provide different user interfaces and user experiences to differentiate the platforms and cater to their customers.
If you are an organization that funds research, you need to think beyond a generic grants management platform and evaluate capabilities that facilitate the needs of research funders and the researchers themselves. The world of research is a dynamic and rapidly changing industry and the needs of research funders go well beyond the basics of grants management. Here are the elements your ideal vendor and platform should have in order to be a good fit for your organization:
First and foremost, you want to work with a company that understands the research industry and lingo. Research is a competitive and dynamic landscape with approximately 75% of the world’s research and development projects being funded outside of the United States. Europe is leading the way with Open Science initiatives like Plan S and privacy standards (i.e., GDPR). The scholarly publishing industry is going through a significant transformation as well with more organizations pushing for open access to knowledge. Aligning your organization with a vendor that is knowledgeable and passionate about these topics is critical.
Research-focused Processes and Metrics
A research-focused process is designed specifically for research funders. One aspect that is a priority is the ability for robust and flexible peer review capabilities. Research funders need the flexibility to accommodate the creation of committees, multiple review cycles, and conflict of interest capabilities. Research funders also need to ensure they are operating at high levels of efficiency. A grants management platform focused on research enables funders to compare themselves against other research funders and industry averages in terms of the time to get applications processed, reviewed and awarded.