New cycles can be a great time to make changes, updates, and improvements to your program, as well as to your process. Before you start getting set up in Zengine for your next year, make sure you have considered all the changes you may need so your time with our Client Success team will be as helpful as possible.
As your organization gears up for your next cycle, you may be wondering if it’s time for a refresh. Sure, we could all use a fresh start once in a while, but in this case, a refresh means updating your application or workspace for a new cycle. When you manage your grants, scholarships, or fellowships using a flexible management software like Zengine, a custom refresh can be conveniently implemented by technicians. However, it’s best to collect some information and make some important decisions before talking to your client service team.
Take Stock of the Previous Cycle
Give yourself some time to reflect on the previous cycle: Did the process run smoothly, or did you encounter any unexpected challenges? Did a significant number of applicants report having trouble with a particular part of the process? Was there anything missing that could have helped you select the best candidates? Talk to a number of team members and stakeholders about this, to ensure that you capture a range of experiences. Then, make a list of any areas in need of improvement, so that you don’t miss anything when you talk to your refresh lead.
Check Your Forms and Portals
Next, take a look at your forms and system portals. Are you able to use the same ones for the upcoming cycle, or will you need to create new ones? If you’re not sure, ask yourself the following questions:
Will your forms have to change a lot, or will a few small edits suffice?
Do you need to add new steps to your process (for example, adding a request for letters of recommendation) or change the order of any existing steps?
Do you want applicants to see only the data they enter for the current cycle?
Are you close to hitting workspace limits, such as 500,000 records per form?
Would you prefer to view one set of data per cycle?
If your application process needs significant changes, a refresh might be the best way to go. But if you’re just looking to streamline your process for both applicants and reviewers, talk to the Client Success team to see if a full refresh is even necessary.
Consider Returning, Rolling, or Deferred Applicants
How you’d like to handle returning applicant is another important factor in determining what your refresh will look like, or if you need one at all. Keep in mind that a full refresh can make data from previous cycles unavailable to applicants and reviewers. Before you request a refresh, you should ask the following questions:
Will returning applicants need to start with new login information this cycle, or will the same login be used for each cycle?
Can they use or update profile data from previous cycles, or would you like them to start fresh?
Would you like them to have access to completed applications from previous cycles?
Likewise, would your reviewers like to have access to completed applications from previous cycles?
Would you like to be able to defer or reopen applications to future cycles?
Another important consideration: Rolling admissions. If your program does not operate on a standard cycle for all applicants, do not create new forms. Instead, talk to the Client Services team about how to maximize your software to accommodate these applicants and make the process more convenient for your grant reviewers.
Ask Yourself if You Need a Full or Partial Refresh
If only a few form edits are needed, talk to your refresh lead about the possibility of a partial refresh. You may only need simple maintenance to your workspace. Your lead may also be able to suggest new ideas or additional training to help your team get the most from your software during the next cycle.
Get Updated on New Features
Similar to a nonprofit organization, the best grant management software evolves with changing times as well as its users’ needs. This is a great time to ask your client service team about any software updates or new features that may impact your upcoming cycle and maximize your organization’s capabilities. These upgrades may affect your full or partial refresh, so it’s best to get to know any new tools in your software’s toolbox before you make major changes to your workspace.