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    Client Story


    Ontario Centres of Excellence

    How the Ontario Centres of Excellence scaled their grants management system to limitless heights.

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    Ontario Centres of Excellence

     

    At a glance

    Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) was challenged not only with the high volume of incoming grant applications but effectively managing the diverse needs and requirements associated with each application. Their data was scattered across different software and platforms, which caused delays in their administrative and application review processes. SmartSimple delivered them a cohesive system that integrated all functionality they needed into one, centralized platform to simplify their workflows. This enabled OCE to efficiently manage their processes on a large scale.

     

    Research that can be transformed into technologies.

    About Ontario Centres of Excellence

    Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) focuses on ensuring the people of Ontario reap the personal and economic benefits of leading-edge research underway in the province’s publicly funded universities, colleges and research hospitals - research that can be transformed into technologies and services that enhance the quality of life and help build a globally competitive, job-creating economy in Ontario.

    OCE deploys an experienced team of Business Development Managers across the province to help build industry-academic collaborations and support the launch and growth of businesses.

    OCE deploys an experienced team of Business Development Managers across the province to help build industry-academic collaborations and support the launch and growth of businesses. They identify what is needed in different industries by exploring the halls and labs of academia to discover the latest breakthroughs from researchers. OCE then guides industry-academic partners in accessing tailored programs that provide the support and expertise required to commercialize innovations, transfer technologies, and develop promising talent.

    Farzad Zohouri

    “The demand is always high for grants, but one metric that stands out since moving to SmartSimple is an increase in user satisfaction.”

    Farzad Zohouri, Director, Information Systems,
    Ontario Centres of Excellence

    OCE has different programs that work with startups as well as large enterprises.

    Searching for a home for all the data

    OCE has different programs that work with startups as well as large enterprises, receiving 2,000 applications every year. Each applicant applies for various funds based on the criteria of eligibility. The initial workflow was the same across each program, but based on the nature of the program, different applications required different elements — for example, programs for social engagement and programs for technology advancement will need different granting needs. OCE’s challenge was too many processes surrounding each of the granting requirements.

     SmartSimple managed to create seamless integrations housed in one system.

    To accommodate its large-scale application process, OCE used a number of different tools in separate systems. They had a CRM software for contact management, yet had to send data back and forth to their financial software. They then had another tool for document e-signatures while using Zendesk to manage support tickets. “We wanted a centralized place to handle all feedback and requests,” says Farzad Zohouri, Director, Information Systems at Ontario Centres of Excellence. SmartSimple managed to create seamless integrations housed in one system. From CRM tools, grant management, reporting, to payments, OCE’s platform handled every nuanced application process from start to finish, no matter how complex.

    img-circle-ontario-centres-of-excellence-testimony-1

    “We’ve managed to receive 3,000 reviews on time, and without the SmartSimple system, we couldn’t handle the processing of our grants.”

    Farzad Zohouri, Director, Information Systems,
    Ontario Centres of Excellence

    Image of microscope.

    One cohesive system for multiple processes

    OCE now has one shared system to manage the flow of every program and can make any changes with more ease. From the information collected at the start of the application to the reporting process at the close-out, OCE has simplified workflows to move the application from stage to stage faster and more efficiently. OCE’s process for making system changes, which involve nine Program Managers, is much more manageable and coordinated because everyone is using one centralized system. “We’re able to come up with a common solution and implement the solution more easily,” says Zohouri.

    A woman worker operating machinery.

    To ensure they create a system that’s relevant to the needs of their applicants, OCE can send a feedback survey to those who have received funding from their system. “Feedback is critical for our process of bettering our programs and making it easier to use while ensuring it provides the necessary reporting functionality to our stakeholders,” says Zohouri. After sending the survey, OCE’s internal staff can now take feedback from their integrated support system (Zendesk) and input it directly into their implementation process.

    Aerial view of a road winding through wooded area | A stress-free applicant experience

    A stress-free applicant experience

    “The demand is always high for grants, but one metric that stands out since moved to SmartSimple is an increase in overall user satisfaction.” By having an efficient administrative process, OCE can deliver results to their applicants and meet expectations in a clear timeline. Depending on the client and the application information they need, OCE takes up to three weeks for each external application review. Workflows are set up where alerts notify reviewers when they’re close to the deadline to keep all parties accountable.

    A welder at work with sparks flying out | OCE managed to receive 3,000 reviews on time

    “Application reviewers are happier now since they have all the info they need in one place,” says Zohouri. OCE designed a standard base review form for ease and can communicate any issues and concerns as they arise in real-time. “We’ve managed to receive 3,000 reviews on time, and without the SmartSimple system, we couldn’t handle the processing of our grants,” adds Zohouri.

    A woman working  on a laptop standing in front of a bank of servers | [with SmartSimple] there's always room to grow

    A platform on the grow

    “We’re always looking to enhance what we have,” says Zohouri. One feature OCE wants to work on is enabling reviewers to be able to push a button to add the calendar review timeline directly into their calendar. “We’re always thinking and looking through the perspective of the applicant and building our system from there, and while we have a close knowledge of our system, there’s always room to grow,” concludes Zohouri.

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