For any research organization, arranging for funds is an important and imperative step that enables it to carry forward research and development. Grants – federal or private – are one way of acquiring the much-needed funds. Starting from applying for grants and securing them, to managing the funds responsibly, the process needs to be transparent, painstaking, as well as accurate to ensure future funding from the grantors. Improper management of grants could make continuation of a current grant or new funding from grantors difficult. Hence, grant management is an indispensable exercise that encompasses a gamut of activities and personnel.
Software solutions providers offer web-based programs that can help researchers with the tedious, yet essential steps of grant management, right from preparation and submission to review and tracking of the grant application. The centralized, online access given to investigators, administrators, and reviewers makes the usage simple and effective, eliminating errors and saving valuable time. This also serves to improve communication among the research team.
With an efficient grant management software in hand, all you need are the five tips given below to help in successfully managing grants received by your organization:
1. Write the perfect proposal:
The first step of grant management begins even before the grant is awarded. Writing an impressive grant proposal is the key to ensuring endowment of the grant money upon the applicant organization. Rather than just listing the objectives of the organization regarding the project, present substantial technical backing in the proposal to persuade the donor. Include examples of previous work records and references for credibility. These days, software programs can customize a grant application for a researcher, making it easier and more manageable.
2. Maintain accurate records:
From the time that a grant is applied for, meticulously record all details regarding the project, viz. the date the grant application is submitted, the result – acceptance or rejection, the amount of grant awarded, the reasons given for rejection, and so on. Duly note and maintain the details in a database, not only for record-keeping but also for ease of sharing among grant recipients. This method reflects responsibility and accountability on the part of the organization requesting the grant. Moreover, in case of any dispute, all details and records will be readily available for cross-checking and clarification.
This is one critical area where web-based software programs are invaluable. Record-keeping of all dates, amounts, deadlines and other important details can be easily tracked using software. Some programs have email notification systems to enable timely warnings of approaching deadlines of submissions etc., thereby reducing chances of errors.
3. Pursue regulatory compliance:
Be very well versed with the regulations governing the grant award. These include guidelines on the usage of the grant money, the maintenance of records of expenditure, etc. While there are some guidelines that are uniform across institutions, there will be some specific regulations for research organizations that should be adhered to by all relevant personnel.
4. Follow best practices:
As an extension of compliance, ensure that you follow best practices in all areas – accounts, cash management and expense tracking, personnel management, records, progress reports, timekeeping, procurement, travel policies, etc. for effective grant management. Grant management software can be very useful in ensuring compliance in all these areas, simplifying tedious, but significant jobs such as record keeping, expense tracking, etc.
5. Define roles and responsibilities:
It would be a mistake to assume that the responsibility of managing grants lies solely with the grant writer, or the finance manager. At every level of the organization, right from the Board members, to the laboratory technician working on the grant-dependent research project, all employees should be involved in the workings of the funds obtained via grants. By delegating and sharing responsibility with everyone, you can create a more democratic and accountable atmosphere for proficient use of grant funds. Every worker should be encouraged to be scrupulous in accounting and cash management habits.
In this area too, grant management software can encourage and enable collaboration and communication among the research teams.
Keeping the above points in mind, and with efficient grant management software programs at your disposal, you can effectively manage any grant money received for research or development processes.