We have a greater level of oversight about our grants, more than any other time in our history of grant management.
eHealth Africa (eHA) was founded in 2009 as a global organization focused on improving public health in the most vulnerable parts of the world through enhanced technology, solutions, and infrastructure. To fulfill their mission, eHealth developed external partnerships and received numerous grants to fund efforts for preventing Ebola, HIV, and Polio in addition to improving Emergency Preparedness and Nutrition, etc. This multi-nation grant management team based out of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Germany, and the United States coordinates and provides oversight to projects performed in remote areas throughout Africa. This challenging environment has created a unique set of conditions necessitating an integrated system for tracking grant management data, compliance requirements, deadlines, and deliverables.
According to Olakunle Ajayi (Ola), Grants Officer in Nigeria, “Managing multiple, overlapping projects can be a challenge when everyone is not in the same office. Managing those same projects across countries, continents, and time zones can feel overwhelming.”
Initially, the eHealth grant managers used Google Docs to store spreadsheets and other documents for tracking grant information. As the organization grew in size and complexity, the need for a comprehensive grant management software system quickly became apparent. Ola stated, “We needed to be more innovative in our approach of consolidating and accessing information across multiple locations. We needed a centralized depository of information that everyone could access, a better way of tracking deliverables across projects, and a more methodical way for creating consistent reports across countries.”
To address the administrative issues associated with the increase in size and complexity of their sponsored projects, eHealth began reorganizing their administrative software. With a progressive mindset that embraced the use of innovative technologies, the Grant Management Office began searching for a solution that could create consistency across projects and countries. Finding a good fit to address the technological abilities of staff and project tracking needs was the major consideration. All agreed the product selected must be web-based and user-friendly to ensure information was accessible to everyone. To meet these requirements, eHealth Africa selected and implemented Blue Wren GRM (Grant and Research Management), the comprehensive grant management and research administration software from Blue Wren Software. Blue Wren GRM provides a web-based system with a dashboard and user-friendly interface with project data organized by tabs for frequently accessed information in user-obvious data groups. It includes document management functionality, an automated email alert system that generates reminders to appropriate personnel of upcoming reporting deadlines across varying projects, and a comprehensive reporting system that addresses team reporting requirements.
Since using Blue Wren GRM, eHealth Africa has become more successful and intentional in how they manage their grants. Ola indicated, “We have a greater level of oversight about our grants, more than in any other time in our history of grant management.” Improvements in meeting grant objectives and deliverables, in continuity and uniformity of information between the locations, and in response rates from team members across all countries was noted. The automated reminders generated through the software have been extremely helpful with meeting deadlines and generating quick responses from team members charged with monitoring time sensitive deliverables. This has increased efficiency and enhanced relationships among team members. Before acquiring Blue Wren, eHA lacked a one stop depository for documents, reports, and communication. Now they can track proposal documents, identify who is involved in the project, track objectives, and manage deliverables with this centralized system.
According to Ola, “Blue Wren’s technology has allowed our entire team to become more organized. Improved organization has been a factor in allowing us to prepare more proposals which has in turn helped increase our funding.” All of these factors contribute to the eHealth mission of better serving humanity and helping underserved communities lead healthier lives.”