Too Many Abandoned Applications? Here’s How You Can Streamline your Process Without Compromising on Quality
In today’s technology dominated era, people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. In fact, the average attention span today only holds for 8.25 seconds, so it makes sense that people want to find information and complete processes as quickly and easily as possible. The applications process for awards, grants and submissions is no different, with many abandoning their applications because of messy, archaic and complicated submissions processes. This begs the question: how exactly can this problem be solved?
The solution is simple in theory, with the issue indicating a great need for streamlined applications systems that engage and reinforce applicants every step of the way, keeping them interested right up until they hit the ‘submit’ button. But what is the best way to do this? To find out, the current standard for application submissions and processing needs to be considered.
As it stands, many organizations run their initiatives programs using traditional, rather messy methods. Systems tend to be cobbled together with a mixture of formats like paper, email and spreadsheets. While this process ultimately gets the job done, it’s labor-intensive for both the applicant and the organization alike. Applicants have to go through multiple online and offline steps that inevitably lead to a considerable amount of abandoned applications. Organizations get bogged down with messy processes and face large workloads which open up the possibility that some applications may be lost or overlooked, leaving deserving applicants with no chance of making it to the judging rounds. With all these factors in play, it’s clear to see the applications process needs a significant overhaul.
Luckily, this overhaul is happening, and it’s the same thing driving people’s attention spans downward that’s also driving the solution: technology. Today, a number of digital platforms exist solely to streamline and simplify the application process for both applicants and the organizations running the initiatives. The right awards management software should enable organizations to streamline their processes, allowing applicants to sign in and work on their entry, pay submission fees, submit their application and upload all supplementary materials in one online, centralized system.
On the organization’s side, the management software should enable an automatic collation and categorization of applications, two-way communication channels with applicants, and a simplified portal that makes searching for certain attributes or requirements simple, among other features.
What does this software look like in action? Imagine: A leading researcher in the biology field is applying for a grant to subsidize a research trip to the rainforests of Borneo. They use their computer to start the application by heading to the grant organization’s website. Once there, the researcher downloads a PDF application and reads the instructions. They’re required to fill the application digitally, before printing it and physically mailing it to four different addresses with copies of all supporting materials, which requires an additional trip to make the copies. Furthermore, the researcher is also required to mail a money order to pay for the submission, before emailing a copy of the application, and a copy of the money order receipt to the initiatives manager. The researcher starts the process, but mid-way through, steps back to take a break. Days pass and life gets busy, with the deadline looming over their head like a dark cloud. They eventually complete all the steps, mail the application, and hope it’s all received before the deadline, but with no confirmation process, the researcher has no way of knowing.
Unfortunately, this is the reality for many applicants, with the multiple online and offline steps acting as barriers to entry. These barriers are compounded with the uneasiness of knowing whether an application will actually be received. Now picture a similar scenario, except this time, every step is achievable online: the researcher sits down, finds the submissions page, and creates a profile which automatically populates the relevant fields in the application page. They complete the application in one sitting, attach the supporting materials and hit ‘submit’, paying the submissions fee online in the process. A confirmation message appears on screen as the researcher’s phone dings, signaling an additional confirmation email. The process has been completed within an hour, as opposed to days, with minimal effort, and the researcher is able to rest easy knowing their application has been received.
On the organization’s side, applications are received and collated instantly. Managers no longer have to spend hours sifting through submissions and manually categorizing them in spreadsheets. A search portal within the platform also enables managers to search for applicants by attribute, meaning only the most qualified or deserving applicants will be presented during judging rounds. The entire process is simplified and streamlined, saving both the applicants and organizations in time, money and effort.
With all these benefits in mind, it’s clear that the future of application submissions is digital. Organizations offering such initiatives should start considering a shift from archaic systems to digital solutions now to realize the significant time, money and effort saving benefits of application management software, while also curbing the incidence of abandoned applications.