Award Management Software Requirements

May 7, 2021

If your nonprofit or nongovernmental organization receives grants or awards, you are likely to need fund and encumbrance accounting software that can help you comply with the requirements stipulated by the grantors.  These can become complicated when your programs are funded by different awards, each with its own timetable and expense eligibility criteria.  For international organizations, you may face additional complications such as handling multiple currencies and multiple languages.

To find the right product for your needs, the best place to begin is with requirements to help you evaluate alternatives.  This blog post identifies some common requirements that we often receive and that may apply to your organization.

Most organizations seek benefits from their award management system such as these:

  • Improve decision making with access to real-time information, expenses, subawards, and obligations, presented in easy-to understand displays.
  • Increase efficiency. Productivity increases since information silos are eliminated; everyone has access to the same information reducing time wasting ”back and forth” communications.
  • Streamline processes. Gives you a comprehensive picture start to finish of your entire process and helps eliminate redundant and potentially conflicting data issues.
  • Automate, simplify grant compliance. Access one set of data in the format you need as often as you need.
  • Provide user-defined multi-currency viewing. View and report grant data in different currencies, depending on your multinational operational needs.
  • Support multiple languages. Specific the languages which you need for all your users.

High Level Requirements

After you spell out the broad goals for the software, it’s time to delve into the details.  You should provide samples of your documentation as appropriate to accompany these requirements.  You may want to use a spreadsheet to track how various products stack up in your evaluation.

Security

  • Complies with industry standards for security
  • Integrated with authentication provider for single sign-on

Hosting

  • Available on leading cloud provider

Integrations

  • Integrates with document management, email, and office productivity apps such as word processing and spreadsheets
  • Offers application programming interface (API) or software development kit (SDK) to allow further integrations
  • Based on current standards such as web services and XML

Proposals

  • Create proposal estimates (budgets) using the sponsoring Funder’s specified line items that map to your organization’s G/L account numbers. Enter estimate amounts annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or daily; and use unit of measure codes to track quantities of specific items.
  • Track revisions of budget estimates as you move through the negotiation process.
  • Use the milestones feature to track due dates and completion dates of important activities during the proposal phase, such as submission of certifications, budget narrative, key personnel bio’s, etc.
  • Attach important documents such as emails, spreadsheets, PDFs, etc.

Awards

  • Specify an award-specific currency that allows the organization to toggle the display of estimate amounts between the currency the organization operates in and the currency of the sponsor.
  • Incrementally obligate funds and track obligation amounts by sponsor-driven restrictions for better monitoring of available funds.
  • Record modifications received from the sponsor to revise estimate amounts.
  • Include a list of the terms and conditions of the award agreement.
  • Use the milestones feature to track project activity deliverables, reporting deadlines, etc.
  • Define the sponsor-imposed restrictions using dimension values to control expenses.
  • Further control spending by restricting the start and end date for the obligation.
  • Track actual expenses against the sponsor-approved budget line items.
  • Track cost matching requirements and record transactions counted against any requirement.
  • Track gifts-in-kind (e.g., towards a cost matching requirement).

Rules

  • Calculate and record indirect costs based on an organization-wide rate or award-specific rates.
  • Calculate and record revenue recognition.
  • Calculate and generate sales invoices in the Receivable system based on cost reimbursement, unit price, installment, or time and material methods.

Subawards

  • Track subawarded funds by subawardee to include modification of estimates, incremental obligation of funds; and tracking terms and conditions, milestones, certifications, clearance status, and monitoring level.
  • Track total expenses under a subaward, including monies disbursed directly to the subawardee and monies disbursed for example equipment and supplies on behalf of the subawardee.
  • Specify subaward-specific currencies to record and view subaward amounts in the currency of the subawardees

Intercompany

  • Record entries across companies, where regional and local offices in other countries are represented by different companies in a single database or multiple databases. This allows the organization to enter data that automatically flows to the appropriate company and is then replicated out to the country offices and back into headquarters without any redundant data entry or complicated import/export processing. All companies do not need to be on the same database. Data entry can originate in the regional offices and then flow to HQ and then back to the regional office.
  • Record modifications to revise estimates or obligations in different currencies using the currency code feature and automatically flow estimate and obligation amounts to regional and local offices in other countries using the inter-company feature.

Starting with these requirements, you may end up with dozens more which are unique to your organization.  For instance, do you need to comply with any government standards or integrate with additional backend system?

Having a written list of requirements is the starting point for the evaluation and will allow vendors to prepare better informed and more accurate proposals.

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