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Blog article 3 min read

How SmartSimple Cloud’s Committee Manager Module Simplifies Research Reviewer Assignments


Since the advent of COVID-19, the research grant community has begun to depend more on collaborative, cloud-based technology than ever before. Reviewers from around the world were already assessing work virtually, but now research grantmaking organizations need better remote collaboration even among their staff in the same city. They increasingly find that the old way of tracking everything in various spreadsheets is not working, and there is an emerging dire need for simple yet configurable software to manage the research grant review process from end to end. 

Welcome to our series on SmartSimple Cloud for Research Grants Managementwhere we explore its many functionalities. In this article we look at our solution's  Committee Manager module, and how it comes alongside research grant administrators to make their reviewer assignment process easier and more streamlined. Read on to learn more. 

The unique problems faced by research funders 

From hundreds of conversations with administrators, we uncovered two main issues that most commonly impacted the reviewer process:

  1. The administrative burden

    Whether managing grants for a foundation, a pharmaceutical company, a government body or an academic institution, the struggle is the same. Complex and fragmented information spread across numerous spreadsheets, PDFs and databases, all of which must be pieced together. Add to that the specific or shifting needs of each grant review and the challenge of working with reviewers across various time zones, and the result is an unwieldy process which wastes hours of already limited time. 

  2. The complexity of due diligence

    Whether it’s compliance requirements, conflict of interest checks, expertise-based reviewer assignments, or various scoring techniques, administrators’ ongoing concern is ensuring that their grantmaking is evidence-based and can stand up under a formal audit. But research assistants tell us that their current tools and processes often hinder rather than help create a granting model that is transparent and outcomes-effective.  

Is it any wonder then that many research funders are looking for a review management tool that seamlessly adapts to their specific needs and handles any level of complexity? 

A unique solution for your unique requirements

We built the Committee Manager module for one reason – to streamline and simplify even the most intricate research grant review process. Below are a few benefits research granting organizations are finding with the Committee Manager module.

  • It’s efficient. From simple review forms with a scoring scale and comment sections, to advanced forms with a variety of question types and weighting, the Committee Manager module can do it, all while being intuitive enough for both funders and reviewers to easily learn how it works. 

    What about review meetings? Administrators can invite reviewers to scheduled meetings, view upcoming meetings and assigned reviews, send reminders of outstanding items, and control the questions displayed on the review forms for each meeting, all from within the Committee Manager module.  

Research administrators love the efficiency SmartSimple Discover grants them

  • It’s integrated. Research funders tell us that keeping the entire review process in a single centralized platform is one of the most valuable aspects of the Committee Manager module. And the administration that previously used to take up so much time? Grantmakers can download review forms, merge completed reviews for an application, print entire packages with application PDFs merged together, and easily identify applications for award or declination, all with just a few mouse clicks.

  • It’s compliant. We specifically made sure the Committee Manager module helps keep the review process transparent and auditable. Conflicts of interest are made apparent through reviewer conflict self-identification, system notifications of potential staff and reviewer conflicts, and comprehensive reporting options to present conflict feedback to staff.

    SmartSimple Cloud's Committee Manager module also makes scoring techniques as granular as needed. Administrators can create different scoring rubrics or weightings, as well as distinct scorecards for individual reviewers. Tracking and reporting also become more robust, with the ability to monitor scores in real-time in charts or graphs, create additional reviews or revise scores, and calculate the average scores and standard deviations between scores. 

Discover's Committee Manager module helps keep the review process transparent and auditable

  • It’s flexible. Research grantmakers turn to SmartSimple Cloud not only for all the above features, but also because it’s flexible enough to match their ever-changing needs. Our team configures SmartSimple Cloud uniquely for every client, and we help them select which modules (like the Committee Manager module) are best for their precise goals. Finally, SmartSimple’s Continuum of Choice promise means we offer our clients an unparalleled level of choice in how they engage with us. They tell us exactly what they need the system to do, and how much technical support they want from us, and we meet those needs.

Case study: How SickKids Foundation streamlined their review process

SickKids Foundation is the largest charitable funder of children’s health research, learning, and care in Canada, and has funded over $80 million in grants across the country. Before they began working with us in 2016, they used a costly grants management system which ended up costing them significant amounts of time. Receiving up to 100 applications every cycle from across Canada, they had volunteers doing hours of data entry into the cumbersome system before they could even begin reviewing. SickKids needed a platform-based solution that could streamline and simplify their grant application and review process, while also giving their staff much more functionality and flexibility. 

We updated and captured their entire review process in one centralized location, allowing them to monitor grant requests in-depth and months ahead of time. Grantmaking staff no longer got bogged down in administrative hurdles, but could assign reviewers to applications with ease. In other words, they got back control over their grantmaking process. Read more about SickKids Foundation‘s experience here.

Want to see SmartSimple Cloud for Research Grants Management in action?

SickKids Foundation is just one of the many organizations using SmartSimple Cloud for Research Grants Management and its Committee Manager module. Want to see how SmartSimple Cloud can make your process more manageable?

Schedule a personalized demo to see how SmartSimple Cloud for Research Grants Management can improve your review funding processes.


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