Skip to main content

Five Ways to Ensure Compliance with Your Grant Management System



As a grantor or a grantee, your organization is responsible to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the funding that you receive.  My company InfoStrat has implemented grant management systems for U.S. government agencies and non-profits for over twenty years.  Here are some of the principles that we follow in order to help clients achieve compliance and accountability as efficiently as possible:

  1. Focus on your system of record.  Having a central system that is the authoritative source of information on your grants is essential for high quality data and accurate reporting.  Try to eliminate and discourage additional "side" systems such as spreadsheets and Access databases which may lead to inconsistent data or calculations.  
  2. Respect your data. Keeping your database clean is a constant process, but is the only way to meet your compliance goals. Encourage users to take care in data entry, and create validation where possible to capture errors.  Audit reports can be helpful when validation rules are not sufficient to show data anomalies. 
  3. Make your data fit your business rules. We have learned that there is no single, universal data model or set of business rules that is appropriate for all grant programs.  Funding may come with complicated conditions that govern progress payments and post-award reports.  You must make your system match the compliance rules, because by the time you have received funding it is almost always too late to change the rules. For instance, in the most common data model that we encounter, an agency receives one or more funding sources for a program, and that program funds individual grants.  Under a grant there may be one or more projects.  This is the data model used in Grants Manager Plus.  Some agencies, however, may have different data relationships, such as a project spanning multiple grants, or only a single funding source per program. With a flexible grant management system, you can model the appropriate relationships and data elements. 
  4. Use structured data rather than documents when appropriate. Some agencies approach grant management as a document management problem.  They use fillable forms for accepting applications, and create storage and search mechanisms to handle the documents.  While documents and other file attachments are useful and appropriate, the problem with a document-based approach is that it makes validation and reporting quite difficult.  Having grantees fill out online forms rather than submitting documents as email attachments allows you to create a stronger structure and have conditional logic to improve the quality of data.  By gathering consistent data from all grants, you can build meaningful reports and make ad hoc queries when necessary.  Our clients are often required to respond to information requests from government executives.  Pulling reports out of a folder full of documents is much more painstaking (and not repeatable) than using a query writer in a database. 
  5. Document your compliance rules and processes. The unique requirements of a funding source almost always translates to complex rules.  You must write down these rules and diagram them in order to understand the process and automate it.  The requirements documentation should spell out such details as reporting formats, scoring criteria, acceptance criteria for payment requests, reporting schedules, and all the other details of your grant business processes.  Too often these rules are implicit rather than explicit, and they often end up handled informally outside the grant management system (bringing us back to item 1). 
In addition to enhancing compliance, a comprehensive grant management system will make it easier to train new users, and help grantors and grantees be more responsive so that they can focus on the work of achieving the goals of a grant program.

For more information on grant management and Microsoft Grants Manager Plus, see my posts:

5 Ways to Ensure Compliance with Your Grant Management System
6 Things to Look for in Grant Management Software
Estimating the Cost of a Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Implementation
Extending Grants Manager Plus
Grants Manager Plus: Theme and Variations
InfoStrat Releases New Version of Grants Manager Plus
InfoStrat Releases New Videos on Grants Manager Plus
Microsoft Grants Manager Plus
Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Online Resources for Microsoft Grants Manager Plus
Portal Options for Microsoft Grants Manager
Statewide Grant Management Systems
Usage Scenarios for Microsoft Grants Manager
User Stories for Grants Manager Plus
Understanding Budget, Payments and Milestones in Grants Manager Plus
Understanding Grant Management Data: CDBG-DR Programs
Understanding Programs in Grants Manager Plus

You can view a PowerPoint presentation on Grants Manager Plus

Popular posts from this blog

Power Apps Portal: The Successor to Microsoft Dynamics Portal

In case you have been reviewing Microsoft's new pricing for its Dynamics products which was released this month and have been unable to find Dynamics Portal, it has been rebranded as Power Apps Portal and shifted to the Power Apps side of the Microsoft product family. Rebranding the portal product underscores the importance of app scenarios involving external users such as customers and suppliers.  It also provides a simpler interface than Dynamics 365 for occasional users. The new portal pricing is based on the number of unique users who log into the portal each month (for authenticated users) and on the number of page views for anonymous users.  "A login provides an external authenticated user access to a single portal for up to 24 hours. Multiple logins during the 24-hour period count as 1 billable login. Internal users can be licensed either by the PowerApps per app or per users plans, or a qualifying Dynamics 365 subscription." Pricing starts at $200/mo

Replacing Microsoft InfoPath with Power Apps

Source:  https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/infopath/ Microsoft has offered a number of forms automation products over the years, and the most long running was InfoPath which was released as part of Office 2003.  InfoPath is a powerful and flexible product that stores user data in XML while offering form features such as rules, data validation, scripting, and integration with SharePoint.  The popularity of SharePoint resulted in many organizations standardizing on InfoPath for forms, especially internal forms which are hosted on an intranet such as employee reviews, leave and payment requests, and human resources forms. Microsoft has discontinued InfoPath, with mainstream support ending July 13th, 2021, and extended support ending July 14th, 2026. Microsoft has named Power Apps as the successor to InfoPath .  Power Apps has much in common with InfoPath.  Both products include integration with SharePoint.  Both are geared toward the citizen developer and do not require advan

5 Best Things about the Unified Interface for Microsoft Dynamics 365

The latest version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 moves most of the core functionality of sales and customer service to a new user interface - The Unified Interface client.  This user interface is not completely new as it was gradually introduced for the Hub features such as the Customer Service Hub in recent versions of the product. The new interface is quite different from the previous interface which was used from Dynamics CRM 2013 to 2018 with a few incremental changes.  This is the Unified Interface, using a form from InfoStrat's Grants Manager Plus Solution. Here is the same record shown in the previous interface which Microsoft calls Classic. Here are the top 5 features that I like best about the Unified Interface: Better menus and navigation . The sitemap on the left is more helpful than the classic menus for larger, more complex solution. Lefthand menu shortcuts are a great use of space and help users access the most popular areas.  Better subgrids .  Sub