Monday, July 29, 2013

Portal Options for Microsoft Grants Manager

Microsoft Grants Manager provides a comprehensive solution for grantor organizations to track the full lifecycle of a grant.  Most grantees publish grant opportunities on a website and accept online grant applications. The website or portal may be used to report application status, payment requests, and post-award reporting.  Because you cannot control which browser is used by grant applicants, it is desirable to choose tools which are browser neutral, and avoid requiring software downloads.

In a Grants Manager implementation, you have several options for a public facing portal:

1. The most common scenario is to add pages to your existing website, using your content management system such as SharePoint.  These pages connect to Dynamics CRM with web services.   The web page developer codes in the integration between the web pages and the Dynamics CRM used by Grants Manager.

2.  If you need to allow for offline users, you could accept applications using document formats such as Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF.  Fillable PDF files may be processed to extract the information entered by users and create record in Dynamics CRM.  InfoStrat has developed a utility to help with this integration. You could allow the application forms to be uploaded to the website or emailed to an alias which would trigger the processing of the files. 

3.  Microsoft Azure offers a flexible cloud environment which may be used to host the grants portal.  It offers excellent scalability and performance which exceeds that of most websites hosted on premise at grantor offices.

4.  Third party companies offer portals geared specifically toward Dynamics CRM, such as InfoStrat PortVue.

Here are some of the features you may want to include in your grants portal:
  • Show the impact of grants with articles, graphs, photos and maps
  • Publish grant opportunities to the public
  • Allow registration through self-service forms
  • Provide grant application forms
  • Show status of grant applications and grants
  • Review grant applications (particularly for outside reviewers)
  • Accept post-award status reports
  • Enter grantee payment requests
The sample Grants Manager portal includes most of these features and is a good starting point for exploring your requirements.



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