Providing and administering numerous funding opportunities to the New Zealand arts sector is a complicated business. Each Creative New Zealand funding programme can have a range of variables, including different financial values, unique closing and announcement dates, its own assessment criteria and approval process, differing contracts, and varying monitoring and evaluation criteria.
The old grants management solution was built in 1999. It managed approximately 20 funding programmes, capturing applicant information, application assessments and outcomes, as well as any contract and payment information.
Either individually managed spreadsheets or a separate grant management system were used where the old system was unable to support a new or changed funding programme. This approach meant information was trapped in silos rather than shared across teams. And because Creative New Zealand didn’t have a single view of their programmes, or applicants, pulling together information for essential reporting was a laborious task.
Applicants downloaded application forms from the website and printed them off, or collected them in person from their local Creative New Zealand office. These paper applications (usually with multiple copies) had to be delivered, often couriered, back to Creative New Zealand offices along with any supporting material like CDs, samples of scripts or photographs of work.
Creative New Zealand staff were obliged to manually enter application details into the grant management system. Further copies of applications and the supporting material were often needed by internal and external reviewers. Slow, and lacking visibility, this process required manual handling at every touch point. The evaluation cost for each application was relatively high, and the entire process was less than efficient.
“We had all this paper flowing around everywhere,” said Angus Evison, Business Services Manager for Creative New Zealand. “We had to courier applications to our advisors at our Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch offices, and to external subject matter experts around New Zealand. Then they would assess the applications and courier them back to us. It didn’t make sense. We knew we had to improve efficiencies by automating these processes.”