The cloud – most of us use it every day. We know that it is an intangible something, able to take in huge amounts of data which we can access from basically everywhere. But what is it actually – this invisible all-rounder? And what effect does it have on organisations using grant management systems?
The term cloud originates straight from technical term to marketing buzzword and no one really remembers an exact definition. So let us shed some light on the dark. According to TechTarget, cloud computing is a general term for the delivery of hosted services over the Internet. This can basically be anything from data centres to applications. The latter mostly refers to SaaS (Software as a Service), which are hosted by a third-party provider and made available to customers simply over a web browser. For couple of years now, spendings on public cloud infrastructures and SaaS are rising and they are predicted to grow rapidly in even further for the next 20 years. This development doesn’t come as a surprise, since this model brings some major advantages to businesses and organisations.
This is the part where it gets interesting for non-profits, foundations and organisations managing grants. There is a number of grant management softwares out there now, that are available through cloud models like SaaS. These solutions can help with anything starting from the grant application and submission of the proposal to assigning grant project teams, task collaboration, budget planning, reporting and even managing the grant over its entire lifecycle. Grant management systems help saving a considerable amount of time on all of these activities by automating most of their processes. So what does the cloud have to do with all of this?
No IT? No problem
Foundations, non-profits or fund-seeking organisations have other priorities than wasting much time on IT infrastructure and keeping it in order. Most of them probably don’t even have real IT-people in their teams and rely on external services when it comes to the setup and maintenance of their software and hardware. With a cloud-based solution, this is no longer a problem. There is no need to install any software, no need to use a specific operating system, no need to make any backups or to worry about security. All of this is taken care of by the software provider. They ensure that everything is up and running from the very first minute. It simply works and that is what you expect from a solution that is supposed to make your work easier.
Grant managing organisations seek to give money to causes. So oftentimes their budgets for everything else, including technology and applications are limited up to non-existent. And often buying a software can be a quite expensive deal. There might be a new specific hardware needed for the application to run properly, then there are people that need to install and implement the software and possibly provide training (and that want to be paid for it) and if anything comes up on the way, maintenance costs could appear. Which organisation can afford this for a highly specialised application as a grants management system?
Cloud-based grant management softwares still don’t come for free, but they can lower an organization’s costs considerably. The usual pricing model is based on the pay-as-you-go principle on monthly or annual basis. This simply means that you are only charged for the service that you actually use and there are no additional costs piling up as you go, which makes it affordable in the first place and much easier to plan budget for.
Room for Innovation
To begin with, SaaS applications are oftentimes highly niched, meaning that they are focused on a very specific market and their developers have an in-depth understanding of all activities and processes that need to be managed with it. Grant management softwares definitely cover one of these niches. Instead of having to use a general project management software, organisations can rely on a specified SaaS solution that really covers their needs and enables them to work effectively and efficiently. On top of that, grant managing organisations can take advantage of new innovations, always using the latest technology. Cloud-based applications are constantly under development – new features and updates are released to users on a regular basis and are instantly available to them.
Need an example?
Now that you know how the development of the cloud has changed the face of grant management systems, let’s take a look at a real application that combines all of the above: Optimy, a solution for organisations and foundations to manage their grants. Optimy is entirely cloud-based and comes with some neat features. It helps them streamline the flow of incoming grant proposals and applications, manage and collaborate on all ongoing projects, automatically assess their performance, and collect key data to generate reports and graphs. The software is designed to save more than 50% of time on these activities by automating most of the processes.
These functionalities can easily be accessed through a simple web browser from wherever you are. All of that comes at a cost-efficient pricing model, as the users only need to pay for what they really need. The pricing is based on an annual license which includes only the features needed, as well as the complete implementation of the solution itself and a dedicated customer support that helps with any issues as you go. There are more than 100 enhancements to the software every year ensuring that its users are always up-to-date and work with the latest technology. They can even have a say in what feature they would like to have developed next. Everything comes in a carefree package – no worries about the setup, maintenance, security, or backup of the solution needed. Check out Optimy’s review here.
When it comes to the decision whether to purchase a traditional grant management software or a licensed cloud-based one, organisations should evaluate their software needs and keep in mind the advantages the cloud brings to these kind of systems. In times where technology is inevitable but resources are scarce, this new development can add real value to every organisation, since it not only allows them to save a significant amount of time and money but also takes away the struggle of dealing with all the side effects of an installed software while leveraging the potential of any organisation. Now it is your turn to make the decision!
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