The first of this series of blogs explained why modernizing grant management is a transformation problem, rather than just a technology one. That does not underplay the importance of a modern technology stack in allowing governments to bring the changes that grant management needs. At a minimum, technology should be seen as an enabler to the step-change in efficiency that can allow grant management to return more from the investment of taxpayers’ money (by helping to reduce costs).

There is a greater opportunity though, to adopt technology as a tool to support the transformation of grants so they become more effective. In the world of grant management, the measure of effectiveness is whether outcomes for citizens are improved.

Furthermore, in government and public sectors’ quest to become modern, trusted and agile, technology has a key role to play. 

While modernity drives efficiency and effectiveness, becoming trusted and agile requires a different level of technology thinking, especially around data and insights. This blog explores what technology should be embraced to help grant management across these three fundamental pillars.

Modernization – driving efficient and effective grant administration

Let us look at the low hanging fruit. Grant management around the world is often being managed on legacy systems with inflexible processes. Therefore, the opportunity for improvement is clear. But getting there is another matter. Every day, KPMG firms work with organizations around the world to help deliver meaningful change. By approaching the problem as a digital transformation project rather than just a technology implementation, the resulting solution is much more likely to be an outcome focused one that includes leading practice for process, people (skills/roles), service delivery, governance, technology, and data-driven insights.

The recent blog Becoming customer-centric can transform grant management , explained that KPMG professionals have considerable experience in helping clients to implement market leading customer-centric solutions based on KPMG Powered Enterprise | Marketing Sales & Service. This is an example of a more holistic outcome-focused business tool that also includes a choice of enabling technology platforms (including Microsoft and Salesforce). Much of the demand for Powered Enterprise comes from clients (including those in government and public sector) having previously not seen the potential benefits they had expected from a technology platform – mostly because they had wrongly assumed that the technology alone was the solution to their problem(s).

The wider picture in grant management is that efficiency gains from modernizing the administration platform are not just limited to governments themselves. Legacy grant management platforms are also creating a significant overhead for other organizations involved in the distribution of grants to citizens, especially providers (both commercial and charitable).

Deploying decent online processes around a proper case management solution not only frees up public servants from low value tasks such as progressing contracts or checking application status, but the same applies to case workers on the provider side. Using data analytics to understand how long applications take is of as much value to a provider as it is to government. Generating statistics on where grants are being spent can help governments improve and it can also help providers improve how they engage with their target citizens. Having an effective payments system at the backend can help reduce the burden on the provider network too.

Overall efficiency gains can quickly turn into helping grants teams to become more effective as the people involved in administration (inside and out) can focus on higher value tasks which are more likely to help achieve better outcomes for citizens.

Becoming trusted through data led insights

Becoming trusted on grants can be hugely improved through better visibility. Better visibility can be achieved through better data, turned into meaningful insights, and where appropriate, made public.

A modern administration platform can make data available to:

  1. Measure the efficiency of the process (across complex workflows) – Volumes, take up levels, case worker analytics, application submission-to-payment, error and omissions, reporting on the reporting process.
  2. Track the flow of money - How funds have been allocated and what they have been spent on (and where), measure whether goals are being met, identify potential mis-spend and feed back into the policy planning process.
  3. Build a socio-economic picture of how grants are helping – Through data driven insights that can report on whether goals are being met at a state and/or federal level. If all grant types are on modern technology platforms, then an aggregated view can be achieved, and the connection can be made between payments and outcomes.

Enhanced data collection, multi-layered analysis and real-time access to reporting through configurable dashboards can provide rapid access to the impact that grants are making.

Below is an example of a Program funding dashboard (names are fictitious).

Program funding dashboard

Grant management article series

In this short series of grant management blogs, senior leaders from KPMG firms’ global government advisory team provide insights into how governments can drive change, get more from their investment in grants, and deliver better outcomes for citizens.

This, the third in a series of four, focuses on how embracing the power of technology and data can help transform the grants process, and improve outcomes.

Throughout this series, ‘grants’ refer to the various mechanisms that transfer funds from governments to third parties for the delivery of public support, relief, or services either as a one off or ongoing.

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Another area where technology helps trust around grants is fraud and error management. It is important that grants are seen to be fair – by the citizen applying, and by the taxpayers observing. Traditionally, fraud and risk management has been a largely manual process, with layer upon layer of administration and intervention. Using intelligent automation can make it a much more dynamic process, which is smart enough to adapt to changing circumstances.

KPMG risk professionals are working with grants teams globally to help implement automated solutions that embed risk management into every level of the process. This makes managing potential fraud a more adaptive process, requiring less people intervention at the same time as helping to significantly reduce fraud levels. This can be explored together with a dynamic risk framework which will be discussed in much more detail in the next blog, Modernizing risk management in complex grant programs.

When it comes to error management, implementing technical solutions that support online applications with built-in error detection builds more trust into the system. Rather than an applicant being told later that their application had been rejected due to an error, they can amend as they go.

Building dynamism throughout the grants process brings us nicely on to agility.

Gaining agility through adaptive and collaborative technologies

Being agile is not just about doing things quickly - it’s about adapting quickly. Taking a modular approach to solution building based on tested, reusable, configurable components, helps to reduce time-to-market. Starting with the model answer means that you can fast-track implementation. But being able to adapt them as requirements change is equally of value. Many new technology systems can be implemented quickly, but that does not mean that they will be adaptable in the future. Without the right evolutionary approach, and a deep understanding how the technology is intertwined with the operating model (process, people skills, service delivery and governance), they can quickly become tomorrow’s legacy.

Agility helps grants become more trusted too, as it helps to reduce the overall timeline between policy announcements at one end, to achieving outcomes at the other. Conversely, unnecessary delay often dampens outcomes, as well as trust in the process.

Many organizations lack agility because they lack a change culture. This can mean that every time they need to adapt a way of working, they do not have the skills and tools to do so. When KPMG firms help clients achieve digital transformation, part of the outcome is very often that change becomes part of the ongoing culture, supported by modern collaborative execution technology tools that allow project teams to manage change more easily on an ongoing basis.

Technology improving outcomes

This was seen from the first two blogs, Driving better outcomes for citizens through modern grant management, and Becoming customer-centric can transform grant management, that transforming grant management should be about creating better outcomes, including aiming to:

  • reduce admin costs
  • improve access to grants
  • help grant recipients to support their target citizens
  • improve the level of trust in grants

Technology has a significant role to play, especially as part of an overall transformation program, underpinned by a desire to adopt tested target operating models that leverage leading practice and data. Used wisely, technology should help to measure and improve outcomes. Doing this can provide the assurance that grants are doing what they set out to do.

Digital transformation of grant management is not just about deploying new technology. But new tech certainly helps and should be warmly embraced!

Some or all of the services described herein may not be permissible for KPMG audit clients and their affiliates or related entities.

What next?

This article is a part of a mini-series. To learn more about how governments can achieve better outcomes from their investments in grant management programs, explore the related articles below.