Odds are you’re familiar with the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Maybe you’ve heard a different spin on it, but the gist of the quote is the same. The intent being that if something is working for you, keep using it as it is.
Well, if we were all still using the same old things we wouldn’t have innovation, and better ways of doing things. The cassette player never would have been replaced with CDs, then mp3 players, and ultimately streaming music. The old technology of VHS tapes never would have become DVDs and then Blu-Ray discs. In fact, we might even still be driving cars without windshield wipers that couldn’t go faster than 10 mph. You get the idea.
The same is true for the way you currently handle your application management process. You could continue putting out a cattle call for applicants via the newspaper or even an email system, but still have a printed application. You could keep using paper and pen/pencil for applications that have to be mailed then sorted and scored by hand. Then you could spend countless hours filing the paperwork and eventually choosing recipients for your scholarships, grants, and awards programs.
Doing things the old way will get the job done, but there are exponentially better ways to get this job done. You could transition to a digital application management system and get the work done in a fraction of the time, with a fraction of the effort, and a fraction of the cost, while delivering better results than you’ve ever been able to.
Now, you might be thinking - we’re already digitized. We’re using Google Forms or digital applications that can be sent to an admin via email. Even these methods have a lot of room for improvement.
First, the admin can easily get bombarded with receiving far too many applications that are from unqualified candidates. Second, having to download all those applications can take a long time. And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that these applications might be filled out incorrectly, or submitted in the wrong format with weird files.
There’s a better way. Let's explore all the benefits of using an intuitive online application management system over the old-school and even more recent ways of doing things.
Using an online application management system will help you to:
Now that you have a rough idea of the benefits of an application management solution, let’s break them down even further so you can see how using submission software is the best way to handle the tasks of your scholarship or grant application programs.
With application management software, you have the luxury of excluding people from your candidate pool before they even waste their time (or yours) filling out the application. Better still, if they do end up on your application page for some reason, you can add pre-qualification questions and additional information to your application that lets the candidate know right off the bat that they aren’t a good fit.
For example, if you have an income qualifier, you could include a rule in your application that automatically filters them out and tells them not to continue filling out the form if they exceed that income amount. Imagine the time and energy you could save from this step alone.
You’ll also enjoy the right applicants finding your applications. People that may have never heard of your scholarship, grant, or award program might now be able to apply for your program simply because they have easier access to it online. The truth is, people are constantly searching for programs to be rewarded with scholarships and grant money, but if they can’t find it online, those programs may never come into their awareness. Simply by bringing your program online with software that works, you’re making it easier for your perfect match to find your programs.
We already alluded to this, but you will save a lot of time by using an intuitive online application management system. For starters, you won’t have to print or download a bunch of applications and/or retrieve them from the post office. Notifications can automatically come to your inbox, and even be filtered based on rubrics and rules that you set up.
Imagine your applications being magically filtered so that all unqualified candidates are instantly rejected, and you only receive the cream of the crop for evaluation. Now imagine that with your rubrics, applications start being scored and then instantly sent off to smaller groups of people for quick assessment. Within moments you’ve saved an untold amount of employee or volunteer hours and now have a significantly smaller pool of candidates to sift through. That’s the power of smarter application management software. With a few simple rules, calculations, and automation you can streamline your process to save time.
You can likely see how much you’ll save on employee or volunteer hours, but what about all the money you will save on things like postage, gas from running to the post office, printing, storage room, etc.? All those things add up to big numbers. Instead of managing a big office filled with hundreds of file folders and filing cabinets, you can have all of your paperwork digitized. Your applicants can upload any number of documents such as transcripts, photos, referral documents, etc… and you can limit your uploads to specific formats such as PDF or JPG if you want to streamline things even further.
Thanks to smart software, you can refine your communication with everyone involved with your programs. Applicant requests for your assistance can be mitigated with embedded help information, online FAQs, and question-level hints. Evaluators and administrators won’t be bogged down with the same questions every day, but those questions will still be answered in a timely fashion. You can send instant emails and text messages to anyone so that people on your team and in your applicant pool will be able to receive instant updates of timelines, events, and relevant news. People can be made aware of the status of applications, deadlines, and other pertinent information with the click of a button.
The biggest cause of errors in the application process is humans that are working in the program. The reality is that it’s incredibly easy to miscalculate, misread, misunderstand, etc… With a solid application management system, you can reduce human errors because it will automatically calculate numbers and sort applications for you. It’s much easier to move through the pool of candidates when things are automated.
It might not be at the top of your list in terms of benefits, but a lot of organizations have to print out every envelope, every referral letter you receive, and every application - reducing those mountains of paper can save hundreds of thousands of trees over the life of your program.
Security is extremely important these days. Identity theft is a bigger problem now than ever before, and as a result, people are very wary about mailing or even emailing sensitive data such as addresses and social security numbers. With an intuitive application management system, you can put your candidates’ worries and your own worries to rest knowing that all the data received will be encrypted and protected from cybercriminals and would-be hackers.
Finally, with a smarter application management system, you can simplify the award determination process. There can be a lot of emotion involved when it comes to giving someone a monetary award. In fact, one glaring error you can minimize is the award nearly going, or actually going, to someone that is unqualified. There’s nothing worse than a team of evaluators becoming emotionally attached to an applicant and getting overly invested in them only to find out that there was something in their application that disqualifies them. Errors like this don’t have to happen!
Using simple rubrics and automated filtering systems, you can refine your list to a pool of only the most qualified people. Now instead of having upwards of hundreds if not thousands of decent candidates, you’ll have a small pool of the best people to choose from making it much easier to make your decision. Then, once you have determined your winners, you can make the announcement and award delivery just as seamless.
When you use an intuitive application management system you save time, money, energy, and more. And the best system on the market? That would be SmarterSelect. Learn more about our software here, or schedule a demo today!