The other day in the office, my coworkers and I reminisced about the days before business automation. We laughed ruefully at the myriad hours spent managing workflows and projects, scrambling to keep tabs on the various moving parts of our company operations. There were always deadlines to monitor, workers to whom we had to send reminders, workers to whom we had to send extra reminders, and sometimes even the nightmare scenario of an employee joining or leaving the team and us having to redistribute their workload.
These days, my colleagues focus their time on the more important aspects of their job. That is, they can focus on consulting with clients on how to streamline their operations in ways that benefit everyone involved: us, our clients, and their customers.
That with all the tasks and deadlines to keep track of was very similar to the situation of one of our clients. They are a research organization that relies heavily on grant funding, so much of their time is spent writing proposals to secure those monies. When they came to us, they had a dilemma but were unsure of how they wanted to proceed. We see this often; businesses can feel limited by their current situations, realizing they need a change but not sure how or what to fix.
In the past, each of their grant proposals had a project lead overseeing delegation of responsibilities to a team of 15-20 people. Again, that meant the lead oversaw work assignments, deadline tracking, sending reminders when people weren’t meeting progress markers on time, on-/offboarding employees as necessary and altering employees’ workloads as needed. This was complicated—a complete proposal is comprised of as many as 20 distinct component parts, some of which cannot be started until other, preliminary parts are completed.
Their major deadline was for executive review, a process by which an internal committee of Directors approved, revised, or terminated their submission of the completed proposal to the funder. While they almost always hit that deadline, it was chaotic because they were consistently right up against the submission deadline with insufficient time to make changes that would strengthen the application.
They came to Gray Leaf, and we spent the first few meetings with them figuring out the full scope of their problem. In particular, we analyzed the system they had in place and identified its weak points. We take a holistic approach to strategizing and developing your IT, so these initial consultations are vital for making informed decisions.
Eventually, we created a highly effective, tailored project management platform for our client’s grant proposal process. In it, the project lead assigns tasks in pre-determined fields with email addresses and task due dates. Based on those due dates, reminders are automatically pushed to team member email inboxes, easing the project lead’s responsibility when it comes to managing the workflow. If someone joined or left the team, reassignment was easy—the project lead could just enter tasks in the platform again, and automated email processes took care of the rest.
This optimization meant our client was weeks ahead of their deadlines this year, giving extra time for review and taking the stress off the team as all the parts of the proposal were brought together into a compelling package. The result? A record number of proposals generated and submitted, many ahead of deadline and all without the last-minute chaos.
This is the kind of solution Gray Leaf specializes in. We take the time to understand our clients’ needs and environment then generate mechanisms to alleviate those needs.