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How The Harrington Discovery Institute Automated Their Granting Process

Posted by Stirling Myles on Jun 29, 2018 11:17:36 AM


 Photo by Drew Hays Photo by Drew Hays


The Harrington Discovery Institute (HDI) was using a manual grants process that consisted of vast amounts of paper and numerous emails. There was no consistency in their applications or in their process, and the constant creation of spreadsheet after spreadsheet left them open to data transfer errors. By moving to SmartSimple, HDI was able to automate not only their application process, but every other aspect of their granting cycle. They have found that having everything in SmartSimple has kept them organized, making it easier for grantees and reviewers to do their work. The HDI team can now also make changes to their system on their own.

About The Harrington Discovery Institute

The Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland is part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. This international initiative is dedicated to physician-scientists, with programs designed to enable innovative physician researchers to improve the range of medications available to patients. Harrington Discovery Institute physician-scientists are linked into a unique network of experts and resources that provide a high level of technical and commercial support.

Swimming in a sea of paper and processes


 Mel Sanders, Financial Analyst, HDI Mel Sanders, Financial Analyst, HDI


Every part of the grant application process at HDI was done manually. “We went through a lot of printing and creating binders, and everything was sent and received through our email system,” says Mel Sanders, Financial Analyst at HDI. “Applicants were asked to complete grant requests using fillable PDFs, but there was no way to apply online. We really wanted to go as paperless as possible and use more electronic resources for things like reporting, because our current paper-based system just wasn’t getting the job done. We were manually filling out spreadsheets and pulling information from a variety of resources when we were creating reports, so it wasn’t unusual to have errors in our data.”

“We decided we needed a proper grants management system,” continues Mel. “We figured that, since it took the collective effort of three or four members of our team hours to process paper applications, an all-inclusive system would pay for itself.”

“As a young organization, a prime concern was being able to find a system that could grow with us. In reality, we were actually looking for a partner, not just a software vendor. We didn’t want someone to just sweep in, build a system and then go on their way. We wanted to know how to manage the system and learn enough about how it works so we could make changes on our own.”



The quest for a true grants management partner

One of HDI’s Program Analysts recommended checking out the Consumer’s Guide to Grants Management Systems produced by Idealware, and that’s how they found SmartSimple. “Coming from an entirely manual process, we had no idea how much a software system could do,” adds Mel. “SmartSimple’s demo was impressive. I was really struck by the amount of research done in advance, so the features showcased were ones that were of particular interest to us.”

HDI decided SmartSimple was the best system for them, not just based on the demo, but also on the abundantly positive feedback they heard from SmartSimple clients. “It sounded like a very intuitive system for those of us not very technically inclined, and it would be pretty easy to learn the basics. Plus, we were looking for an established company and the competitors didn’t seem to have the same breadth of experience as SmartSimple.”

“The team really took their time in creating our Statement of Work to make sure we truly understood the implementation process,” Mel continues. “We appreciated the time our Project Manager took to explain the workflows, and how ultimately our system would work for us."



Mel and her colleagues found the SmartSimple staff to be highly responsive partners, always available to address concerns. The implementation team kept the project moving forward, ensuring all milestones were reached. HDI also discovered that SmartSimple could do so much more than they had anticipated. “Once we learned what the system was capable of, we realized how much it could do for us; not just for online applications, but in managing post-award activities. Having a system so configurable and easy to modify is immensely helpful.”

New discoveries at every turn

“Everyone on the Support Team is wonderful. They never make us feel like we’re being rushed off the phone and ensure our questions are answered fully. We’re not IT people, but they’ve made using the system so easy for us!”

“SmartSimple is a powerful solution. It offers so many more opportunities to automate our activities than we had initially thought,” concludes Mel. “SmartSimple is actually changing how we operate and is making a positive impact on our entire operation. Before we were restricted in how much we could do because of our manual process. Now, the sky's the limit!"

When you automate your granting process, you can focus your time on elevating your engagement and impact reporting. Create consistency in your data processing, and track your information with confidence with SmartSimple’s platform.

Get in contact to find out more about how SmartSimple can provide solutions to simplify your work.


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