AKF used an offline grants management software program to administer and manage its financial assistance programs. The program was developed when the volume of grants was significantly smaller. The system was cumbersome, lacked proper internal controls, had no online capabilities and was susceptible to outages. The system also required a lot of staff resources as all applications had to be inputted from incoming faxes or from paper applications mailed to AKF.
With a goal of improved efficiency and scalability, the organization engaged Vendor Centric to assist with the planning for a new, modern system that would enable AKF to streamline processes and speed up services to patients and their partners.
We utilized a disciplined process to evaluate the current end-to-end workflow, and then apply best practices to create a blueprint for process improvement and system design. This enabled AKF to force risk out of the project in the very early stages while also helping them document requirements and build a business case for implementing a new grant management system. The key activities involved in this project were to:
- Clarify Needs and Build Stakeholder Consensus. We engaged key stakeholders early in the process, and collaborated on a common vision document that was used to check progress and to engage stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle.
- Audit Business Processes. We analyzed the current grants management process to understand and identify gaps and inefficiencies in the current processes, and provide recommendations for process improvements.
- Develop System Requirements. We utilized information from the vision document and the business process audit to develop a systems requirement document. This document served as the broad, technical requirements for the new system.
- Prepare a Business Case with ROI Analysis. Finally, we formalized all of the previous work into a business case and return-on-investment analysis that was used as the basis for obtaining the needed funding for the project. The business case really highlighted issues that were impactful to both internal staff and patients, and provided a financial rationale for the investment in the new grants management system.
- The work done on this project provided AKF with clear set of requirements and process improvements for the new grants management system. The management team used these, along with the business case, to present a request for funding of the project to senior management and their Board (which was ultimately approved). From there, the project team performed a formal RFP process and selected a vendor to develop the software.
- The best outcome of the project was the ultimate launch of a new, more scalable grants management system that streamlined AKF’s internal processes and saved money on data entry staff and other manual processes. Staff were able to provide a quicker turnaround of assistance to patients and, ultimately, service more patients due to the improved scalability of processes.