Thousands of federal grant applicants have submitted their application packages using Grants.gov Workspace. In this blog post, we share tips for streamlining organizational workflow in order to take advantage of Workspace’s full range of benefits.
These benefits include the following:
- A set of shareable individual grant forms, rather than the legacy application package (which will be phased out in December 2017)
- A form reuse feature that imports data from past application forms
- Improved form validations that help to cut down on last-minute submission errors
- A preview feature that gives applicants the ability to view the complete application in a single window
Below are some tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible for you and your organization:
1. Form reuse is the single most beneficial feature in Workspace.
Whether you’re a one-person show or you have a large team working on each application, the reuse feature within Workspace has the potential to save you tons of time.
Let’s say you apply for a grant later this month using Workspace. In the end, you aren’t awarded the funds. The next time you apply for the same grant – perhaps a year from now – you will be able to reuse all of your old forms and focus your time and effort on improving the weakest parts of the application.
2. Familiarize your team with the general Workspace workflow.
Workspace separates the application package into individual forms. This allows a team of applicants to work on each form separately – at the same time, if they wish. This changes the traditional workflow, which permitted only one applicant to work on the application at a time.
Take a look at the above workflow graphic for a high-level view of the process, from creating the workspace to submitting the completed application. You may want to consider building your own process around this general workflow.
3. Register other team members with Grants.gov accounts.
A single applicant with the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) role can still complete and submit a federal grant application. But if your application requires a number of key collaborators, you may want most, if not all of them, to have a Grants.gov account in order to take complete advantage of Workspace’s many features.
You and three others will be working on the application together. If you are the only user with an account, you must download each form and email it to the person who will be filling it out. If some or all of your collaborators have a Grants.gov account, then each registered user can log in, access the workspace, and download the forms themselves. Each action taken by participants will be tracked in the Activity tab.
4. Keep in mind that all participants in the workspace will be able to read completed forms, even if they are locked.
We recommend adding only participants who are part of your organization. Other collaborators can be emailed individual forms in lieu of being added to the workspace as a participant. (See Tip #5 for more.)
Note: A future enhancement under development will allow Workspace Owners to limit access to budget forms. We will release more information about this enhancement as it becomes available.
5. You can still assign specific forms to non-participants via email.
Some organizations may prefer to give only one or two individuals access to a workspace. This decision could be guided by the need to limit access to certain forms or to work with outside partners, such as contractors or consultants.
Let’s say you want to use Grants.gov Workspace but limit the number of participants who are added to a specific workspace. The Workspace Owner, an access level granted to the applicant who creates the workspace, may choose to download and email individual forms to contractors or consultants who are not registered Grants.gov users. Once the forms are filled out, the Workspace Owner would then need to upload them back into the workspace before submitting the application.
6. The more you use workspace, the more valuable the reuse feature is.
We have already highlighted the benefits of Workspace’s reuse feature. We want to note, however, that if your organization applies for multiple federal grants every year, you will find the reuse feature even more beneficial. That’s because your organization will have a wider range of forms to draw from and reuse without having to re-fill each and every form field.
7. Workspace form validations help to minimize last-minute errors.
When you use Workspace, forms are validated individually as they are uploaded and checked back into your online workspace. Users will also find a Check Application button that performs an additional set of validations. These help to cut back on the potential for data-entry and submission errors.
You’ve uploaded three completed forms into your workspace. On the third upload, instead of “Passed” you see the message “In Progress”. This means that at least one form field still needs to be filled in or corrected. The errant field will be outlined in red; add the required data, and then re-upload the form.
Do you have questions about transitioning your organization to Workspace? Share them with the community in the comment section below.