Managing Grants and Boards in Non Profit Organizations: Process

grants-board-and-nonprofits.jpgIn part one of this article, we discussed the importance and methods for managing people within non profit organizations.  In this next part, you'll learn why process management is a key determinant of success in nonprofit management.

Managing people, board members and constituents within nonprofit and public sector organizations is challenging in and of itself, but without the right processes and technology in place, it can be downright daunting.  Establishing the right processes and implementing the technology to manage these processes requires mature process management structure and tools. 

Since we don’t really manage a process, but rather the people operating within that process, a key requirement of process management is the ability to quickly assess how well people are performing within a process and to provide the follow-up and oversight needed to correct deviations from the process.  Non profit organizations and public sector organizations that have the right software to establish, monitor and correct process performance will have an advantage in the people/process management arena.

Successful process management demands tools and systems to hold individuals and teams accountable to the process. These tools must enable you to do four things:

  1. Set expectations
  2. Improve Communication
  3. Track results
  4. Monitor Progress  

There needs to be a measurable stated outcome for the team. This outcome should be agreed upon and should be clearly defined. There should be a date for completion identified as well. Steps that are necessary to complete this goal should also be assigned and dates associated with these steps agreed upon. These expectations become the measurable basis for the success of the team.

Simply stated, nonprofit organizations need software and technology that enables management to create measurable responsibilities for people, define the intended result, specify and track dates for the outcome and measure and correct the results. 

In addition, it is important in order to manage more advanced processes, to have technology that enables non profit organization management to automate the assignment of responsibilities and to link specific tasks and outcomes to new goals.

Finally it is important for process performance management to be able to set goals at intervals within a larger task in order to create a baseline of expected results.

Managing communication within a process is critical to effective nonprofit board management as well as to functions such as grants management.  Without the tools in place to streamline communications among the individuals involved in a complex process, communication will breakdown, resulting in missed deadlines and poor outcomes.  Centralizing the communication, documents, schedules, calendars and reminders can greatly help facilitate this process.  Providing individuals who are involved in or responsible for a process a centralized point of view to all communications will allow for greater access and knowledge of next steps.

Tracking process results is critical since you cannot improve what you don’t measure. Consequently, it is critical to measure success at all steps of the process in order to improve individual and team performance within the non profit organization. The tool used therefore needs to provide team members easy access to record results and to see performance so that they can self-monitor their own progress. If individual results are linked to team goals through the tool, then team results can be automatically generated and viewed by the team.

Monitoring progress is at the heart of good nonprofit management particularly in processes around grant management and board member management.   The technology, software and tools that nonprofit organizations use will determine if the non profit organization managers have the ability to monitor expectations, communication and results.

Any tool used for process management needs to have the ability to centralize and track this data by project so that the person responsible for monitoring can evaluate shortfalls and effect change in a timely manner. In order to evaluate shortfalls in a timely manner on longer projects the tool needs to allow tracking interval results to a baseline of outcomes.

In nonprofit organizations and public sector organizations, managing people and processes go hand in hand.  Once cannot be performed effectively without the other.  While managing people requires a lot of the human touch, managing processes requires technology and automation.  With the right technology, managing processes becomes measurable and controllable and provides a better environment for nonprofit organizations to manage people more effectively. 

Image Source: Matt Lucht