Reporting is one of the most important outputs of any grant, contract or program management software system. Ask any grant, contract or program manager. Every one of them has faced the last-minute demand for a report on “x” or spent the long hours compiling data for year-end reporting.
At Tactiv our clients work primarily with publicly funded programs, in the government or the not-for-profit sectors. Visibility and transparency are critical to trust, investment and accountability, not to mention appeasing the inevitable audit.
Reporting provides the critical line of sight across the engagements, operations, investments and results. Here are some of the most important reporting requirements grant, contract and program management software should offer:
1. Report Templates
A system should allow users to create reporting templates. Templates help reduce the time and effort needed to report and standardise information that does not need to change. Also important, the report audience will appreciate a consistent reporting standard. This makes it faster and easier to digest.
Templates should be easy to reuse, support cloning so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time, and support images, text and charts.
2. Personalised Reporting
One size does not fit all. Every organisation must report to a variety of stakeholders, from internal management and other business areas to external investors, partners, community and regulatory bodies.
Each stakeholder has their own information needs, and likely on their own schedule. A software system needs to provide the ability to generate reports and align them to stakeholder groups or personalise information and delivery to a particular stakeholder. Best practice systems integrate contact management to streamline reporting administration.
3. Searchable and Configurable Data
Reporting demands reflect a wide range of needs, not just a recap at the end of a project or grant round. At every stage reporting supports critical business decision-making on grant applicants or suppliers, contract renewals, program activities, finances and performance.
Software must make enterprise search and filtering information easy. The system should allow users to save filtered searches to automate reporting data. Users must be able to customise data and align to important processes, like workflows or project milestones.
Ability to create alerts, or triggers on important dates or events, are critical to help avoid reporting surprises or missing obligations.
4. Scheduled and Ad hoc Reporting
Grant, contract and program managers can benefit from scheduled automated reporting. Software systems can generate standard and personalised reports based on important dates and events. The system streamlines administrative efforts by automatically generating reports on triggers. They system should automatically populate the relevant information.
It is also critical the system support the need to generate ad hoc reports quickly to respond to the inevitable requests.
Best practice systems should support report dissemination, manage contacts lists and offer reports in a variety of formats.
5. Reporting to 3rd Party Frameworks
Frequently organisations must report to regulatory bodies or partners that have sector wide frameworks. The frameworks are often used to measure and monitor impact across a wide range of programs.
Reporting should allow a grant, contract or program manager to adopt external reporting frameworks like the GINI, IATI or UNSDG, or regulatory agency frameworks.
Reporting against 3rd party frameworks means systems must be easily configurable.
Best practice software systems should allow a view of data across one or many programs to avoid the problems of trying to collate data across differing sources and systems when reporting to sector wide frameworks.
6. Single System/Single Source of Truth
Best practice grant, contract and program management software must offer the ability to consolidate data assets into a single repository with online accessibility. It’s important all stakeholders engage with the same single source of truth. The system needs to support role and user-based access and version or history management for traceability and security.
Collaborating with all stakeholders in a single system over a single source of data eliminates errors. It also reduces the vast amount of time needed to collaborate, collate and prepare information. It provides auditability on who has done what and when.
Best practice reporting is core to modernising grant, contract and program management. Understanding reporting requirements across the whole lifecycle will help define and deliver improved business processes and practices. It will save time, money and reduce risk.
Tactiv’s Enquire was designed to support Australia’s natural resources management organisations who faced complex reporting demands for government investors, community stakeholders and delivery partners. Today our government and not-for-profit clients face new and emerging demands as reporting needs evolve and change, often frequently.
If you would like to improve how you use Enquire to manage your reporting, need a refresher or want a demonstration of Enquire’s reporting capability contact the Tactiv Client Service team today.