Using an online system is considered a best practice in the grants management industry. Read below to see why it’s the preferred option when managing your grants or scholarship program.
Choosing an online system
When it comes to choosing an online system to manage your grants program, there are two main options you’ll come across—custom built software and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Custom built software certainly has its appeal. It should be perfect, right? It’s been created with your specific requirements in mind after all. But that’s often not the case. There are other important considerations to think about before going down this path and these will be discussed below.
The other option is Software-as-a-Service more commonly referred to as SaaS. SaaS applications are accessed via a web browser, under a simple subscription model. Despite the initially obvious benefits of a custom built solution, why has SaaS become the preferred option?
1. No development effort
Compared with custom built solutions, SaaS brings huge value. For example, there is no need to spend an enormous amount of time and expense on software development and upkeep, such as:
- Feature development
- Hosting, backup and security
- Monitoring and managing uptime
- Ongoing maintenance and improvements
The list is endless, and custom solutions cost exorbitant amounts of money.
Instead, with SaaS products like Good Grants, you get a stable and proven solution with ongoing innovation and improvement for a predictable monthly or annual fee. And it is ready for you right now—not after months of development effort.
2. All the underlying maintenance is taken care of
Companies like Good Grants host and maintain the application in the cloud and this means we do all the heavy lifting when it comes to maintaining the application, and all the underlying servers and systems it relies on. This makes the administration of Good Grants incredibly easy and frees up your IT team to focus on other activities.
3. No manual product updates
Your IT team never has to check for, download or install updates to keep a SaaS application running. Software-as-a-Service, like Good Grants, is provided to you via a web browser and automatically serves you the most up-to-date and secure version of the software, every time you log in. This is mostly true for all SaaS providers but it’s worth checking how often the software is updated.
4. It is already built
There are no long delays associated with software development, or at least there shouldn’t be. Good SaaS software like Good Grants is ready to go when you are. You should simply configure your program, decide when you want to start accepting applications and get started. There are some providers with whom implementations can take many weeks, if not months (and yes, years is not unheard of) so watch out for these. Implementations should not be long drawn-out endeavours.
5. There are no hidden costs
It’s hard enough to cost a custom-built system, which includes product investigation, design, development and delivery. It is even harder to cost for the maintenance. Where do you start? Hosting fees, internal resources, specialised skills, maintenance and time—it all adds up.
Modern SaaS products like Good Grants are purchased through an easy-to-understand monthly or annual subscription. No hidden costs, no surprises down the track. But be sure to check the fine print—not all software providers list costs clearly.
6. SaaS is configurable
Most organisations have specific requirements, which can lead to thinking a custom-built system is the only option, but SaaS products have evolved.
Most SaaS products are built to be flexible and can work in a variety of conditions and towards a wide range of requirements or outcomes.
7. There is collective wisdom in how SaaS is built and maintained
Speaking from our own experience, we deal with a diverse range of programs and approaches. This empowers you with the collective wisdom of program managers, processes and approaches from all over the world. These learnings are infused into both our product and our support, ensuring your program is using best practice industry features and you are getting the help you need in ways that suit you best.
SaaS is available anywhere with an internet connected device. Conventional software licences are dedicated to a specific number of devices and you cannot use it on a computer or laptop that does not have the software installed. But, with SaaS, you can access the software from any device with an internet connection, at any time.
Summary: The burden of risk management is significantly reduced
Purchasing software outright is an expensive risk. If the software fails to live up to its intended use or for whatever reason is rendered inoperable, the grantmaking or scholarship provider is stuck with that software for life, must purchase a replacement, or must wait until that software is updated/patched/fixed.
This has become an unfortunate and common problem. And it is only amplified if the software has been built or commissioned, in a bespoke fashion. Often the initial cost of a software build is taken into account but the maintenance, updating and ongoing improvement is not, resulting in larger operating costs in the long run.
Using SaaS is much less risky. If the software becomes inoperable, outdated or does not work according to expectations, organisations can simply change providers. In the case of Good Grants, a powerful API enables the export and import of all applicants, results and files—making it easy to move data both to and from the platform.