Software Release

What’s new in OmniStar 5.1.1?

Exciting new feature improvements

F1 Solutions is continuously improving OmniStar for clients across Australia.
In version 5.1.1. we have added a number of new features to make OmniStar more intuitive and configurable.

Read the release notes below to find the detailed information behind

We’re always looking for new ways to make your work life easier. Scroll down to read more about new OmniStar features that’ll free up time for you and your colleagues.

Approve grants anywhere, anytime. 

Grant approvals have never been easier in OmniStar. With the familiar ding of an email notification, decision-makers can click on a link containing all the information they need to make, and notify their decision, without even having to log on. All the supporting documentation needed will be right there. 

Given the possibly sensitive nature of information in these links and the associated decisions, an expiry date can be set to render an emailed link unusable after a given period. 

Powerful, daisy-chained approvals lighten the load. 

Enjoy more benefits of automation, with daisy-chained approvals. With OmniStar’s new daisy-chained approvals, approvals can be sequenced. Approval actions are then triggered by actions on the previous approval in the sequence. 

So how does this look in practice? 

  • When a workflow is created, so is the set of associated approvals. 
  • A grant administrator assigns approvals to users (appropriate decision-makers or action takers for each approval). 
  • A grant administrator can tailor a daisy chain of approvals by inserting and removing approvals in the chain.
  • Assigned users will only be notified that they have an approval needing action when the previous (or predecessor) approval in the approval chain has been actions (e.g., decision recorded).
  • An assigned user can then update/record their approval. 
  • Where an assigned user is unable to record a decision (due to absence etc.) another user can be assigned in their place to prevent delays in the approval process. 
  • If a decision is made that means subsequent approvals in the process become unnecessary (assuming no decisions have been recorded for subsequent approvals). 

The power of daisy-chained approvals built into specific workflows removes the burden of needing to update workflows, removes the burden of needing to update workflows when decision points impact approval processes. 

What’s not to love? 

Fast-tracked access to the information you need. 

Get reliable, up-to-date information on any aspect of your giving, research, or governance, at your fingertips, with OmniStar’s new ad-hoc reporting and lockup functionality. 

OmniStar’s enhanced Smartforms and search capacity provide better and faster access to information on the go. All types of users can benefit from improved information and insights via dashboards and reports. 

More flexibility and control with new Milestone actions

Great news. 

For OmniStar users, reaching a Milestone can often trigger a need for action of one kind or another. Traditionally, OmniStar managed this by incorporating actions into a dew, limited types of predefined Milestones. 

But now, as soon as a Milestone has been included in an OmniStar workflow, you can add specific Milestone actions to trigger actions(s) associated with reaching that milestone. These actions might, for example, send an email to notify certain people that the milestone has been reached or release a new report.

Milestone actions are time-dependent, workflow actions that occur in your grants, research, or ethics management process. Once defined, you can edit Milestone actions to change the actions (s) or switch the actions on (activate) or off (deactivate). With so much flexibility you’ll have way more control over milestone-related actions. 

 

Outstanding research is a critical foundation of an innovative and modern society. The University of Western Australia (UWA) is one of Australia’s leading universities and has an international reputation for excellence in teaching, learning and research with nearly 24,000 students enrolled.

Established in 1911, the University’s vision is to create the next generation of global leaders through experience-rich education and world-leading, trustworthy research.
UWA consistently ranks in the top 1% of the world’s universities. Based in Perth, Western Australia, UWA benefits from vital research funding which enables them to translate our research into tangible benefits for Australia and the world.
UWA attracts the highest level of research income of any Western Australian university with the majority all national competitive funding to the state coming to UWA. In 2010, an independent study of the value of The University of Western Australia to the state economy – undertaken by ACIL-Tasman – estimated that in the next 40 years, UWA would contribute more than $60 billion dollars value to the Western Australian community through its research programs, educational functions, capabilities, relationships and investments. Our researchers tackle global, regional and local issues to make the world a better place. Their research translates into economic, social and environmental impact.

The University of Western Australia (UWA) recently launched ROAP (Research Online Application Portal) powered by F1 Solutions’ OmniStar Research providing a single, contemporary solution to manage their ethics applications and research grants.
Research grants, along with animal ethics, human ethics and biosafety applications are managed through ROAP. The system facilitates the effective, streamlined and transparent administration of research projects, including research administration management, and compliance
management. In addition, processes have been simplified and been made more efficient through the removal of paper forms and automated sign off.
ROAP will provide researchers, committee members and approvers with up-to-date information regarding the status of all applications in real-time. Streamlined online application and electronic approval processes mean more time for researchers to do what they do best while providing substantial staff resource capacity savings and a better user experience for every stakeholder.

The benefits of ROAP:

  • upgraded research management software and functionality providing researchers real-time, online project information and control of research administration,
  • streamlined online application and electronic approval processes for key research administration tasks and functions,
  • enhanced connectivity and integration of research management functions across the research lifecycle (including ethics, funding, data management and publication),
  • increased agility to accommodate changing operational requirements,
  • enhanced capabilities for analysis, monitoring and governance of research,
  • enhanced client satisfaction and ongoing partnerships,
  • increased efficiency in project operationalisation and accuracy, and
  • reduction in enquiry demand around setup, funding and administration.

UWA continues to make significant investment into major research infrastructure to establish, across all disciplines, a network of world-class platforms and technologies that underpin their research effort and attract the brightest minds on the planet. These facilities build critical mass, support research collaborations both internal and external and help develop new partnerships, including with industry.
F1 Solutions is proud to support research excellence as UWA endeavors to be world leaders in cutting-edge research.

OmniStar is an industry-leading, cloud-based, end-to-end grants management solution. Built in consultation with experts and grantmaking practitioners, OmniStar can be personalised to suit individual organisations’ objectives. It has been continuously improved over the past 15 years, on advice from grantmaking professionals.

OmniStar is based on grantmaking best practices, making it the gold standard solution to support grants management. OmniStar ensures grantmaking decisions are informed by real facts in real time.

With a grants management solution built on grantmaking best practices, grant managers like you, can expect improvements in several aspects of your grantmaking. These include productivity improvements from more efficient grant application and assessment processes, and better alignment of your grant programs with your organisation’s objectives.

The Importance of Best Practices in Grantmaking

Grantmaking is a complex process. Grantmaking organisations often tackle big problems such as alleviating poverty or improving the quality of women’s education in the world’s most vulnerable populations. When the scope is wide, defining how and what matters can be complicated. As a result, designing grant programs is never an easy job. Applying grantmaking best practices can help you to focus.

Even after you’ve designed your grant program, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating your program can present a number of challenges. Missing information or scattered data from poorly defined metrics are common risks that will leave you with little or no clue about how well your grantees are delivering, and whether or not they are making an impact.

Constrained resources often limit grantmaking organisations’ ability to make the best of their programs. Research shows that following grantmaking best practices can help you to produce optimal results.

Building on long-term industry experience, we summarise nine grantmaking best practices that every grantmaker should implement.

 

Nine Grantmaking Best Practices

  1. Establish A Clear Vision and Mission

One of the best practices in grantmaking, is to establish a clear vision and mission for your grants program. Spending time during your planning and design phase to flesh out your grants program’s vision and mission, will set a cornerstone for your success. It will help you to focus on the outcomes and impact you want from your funding, and your grantseekers to know whether or not your funding opportunity aligns with their values. As a grants program manager, you can review your  organisation’s strategic objectives and then think about how ‘giving’ can operationalise these objectives. This will then inform your grantmaking strategy.

 

  1. Determine the Funding Focus

One strategy for good grantmaking is to have a specific focus for your funding. Having a  funding focus can help you to develop your grant assessment guidelines, by defining “deal-makers” and “deal-breakers”.

“Deal-makers” might include grant applications that:
• Match your geographic or demographic area of focus
• Are from organisations with a strong network of community leaders who align with your niche community focus
• Come highly recommended by trusted colleagues.

On the other hand,
“Deal-breakers” might be grant applications from organisations that:
• Have a notable deficit in their financial report
• Lack project experience
• Don’t have an organisational sustainability plan
• Have biases and prejudices that conflict with your organisation’s values and objectives.

 

  1. Provide Clear, Transparent Guidelines for Grant Seekers

Once you know your focus, if you’re following grantmaking best practices you would then need to develop clear guidelines for your grant applications. Comprehensive submission guidelines would include:
• Clear details about eligibility
• Timelines outlining each stage of the application and evaluation processes
• Details about the information you will need from grantseekers at each stage of the grants lifecycle
• Evaluation criteria.

Remember to keep the guidelines succinct and make it easy for your grantseekers to understand their obligations.

 

  1. Ensure Expectations Are in Line with the Size of the Grant

It’s logical to anticipate that you’ll expect more from bigger grant programs. If you’re following grantmaking best practices, it’s important to make your expectations clear. Be specific about the level of detail you need in grant applications, and the evidence your grantseekers will need to provide when reporting. This will of course vary with the size of your grant. Providing clarity about what you expect will ensure your grantseekers are not unnecessarily overwhelmed with administration for small grants, but understand the need for larger grants to have more comprehensive requirements for reporting outcomes and impact.

 

  1. Streamline the Application Process as Much as Possible

When you start accepting applications, you can expect your administrative load to build. To keep on top of your workload and not lose sight of the big picture, you need to streamline your grant application process as much as possible. Savvy grants managers who are looking to follow grantmaking best practices, are benefitting from using Grant Management Software (GMS). GMS will reduce your manual workload with automated workflows and advanced record-keeping, and help you to better manage your grant applications.

 

  1. Rely on A Multi-Faceted, Efficient Platform Like OmniStar Grants

Not all grants management solutions are created equal. Your organisation may already have an existing solution in place, or perhaps use an online survey tool or a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. These tools and systems may address some of your grants management pain, but unless they are built specifically for grants management, they may need costly development and customisation to meet your needs.

OmniStar Grants, one of the leading GMS solutions, is specifically designed for grants management. It will maximise your productivity with automated features such as notifications, workflow, dashboards and reporting. OmniStar Grants can adapt to meet your specific grantmaking processes.

 

  1. Design A Process that Will Filter Out Unfit Applicants

Best practice in grantmaking includes having a process to filter out unfit applicants. This starts with defining your eligibility criteria, and then excluding applicants who don’t meet your mandatory requirements, at the earliest possible stage of assessment. Many grantmakers use an online survey for this purpose, and then manually apply the results to their assessment process. With a purpose-built GMS you can incorporate this functionality so that it can automatically filter out unfit applicants at the outset, and email them to let them know that they’ve been unsuccessful. Less work for you!

 

  1. Set Reporting Requirements in Place

Once your grant program has rolled out, you and your grantee need to work together to keep track of the project’s progress. You can implement the following best practices in grantmaking reporting to ensure stewardship and accountability:
• Establish and reinforce performance measures based on the impact your grant program is trying to achieve
• Create a consistent reporting template to ensure you’ll have the data you need to have confidence in your grantees’ progress
• Establish checking mechanisms to make sure targets, milestones, and reporting deadlines are met.

 

  1. Use Data to Improve the Process for Next Time

A good reporting system will gather critical data to provide meaningful insights into your grants program. These data and insights will help you to measure the impact of your program and provide comparison data over time, and between programs. Having access to the right data will also help you to design and improve future programs. To have quality insights, you’ll need efficient ways to capture and report on your grants programs. Do you have the right system in place?

 

Implement Grantmaking Best Practices with OmniStar Grants

Grantmaking organisations often refrain from using a purpose-built grant management software (GMS) and rely instead on existing tools and inefficient manual processes. Some think their existing systems, like online survey tools or CRMs, are good enough, but GMS will ensure that your grant programs align with grantmaking best practices.

Grants management is complex. It makes sense to have a system to seamlessly manage the entire process from program development through to acquittal. More efficient administration means more money to give, and more time to focus on your grant funding strategy.

OmniStar Grants, an industry-leading, cloud-based, end-to-end grants management solution, is one of the leading GMS solutions. Its automated workflows will help you to reduce the time, cost, and effort of managing your grants programs. 

Implementing best practices in grantmaking is easy when you rely on OmniStar Grants. Book a demo with us today.

In May we spotlighted four of our favourite features to help our users efficiently manage their projects in OmniStar.

Use Maps to generate meaningful multi-region insights

Ever wondered about the geographical distribution of your funding applications? When you’re busy managing your day-to-day tasks, it’s easy to lose sight of what matters most. 

OmniStar’s Maps feature captures and maps the regions of origin and dollar value of all your funding applications. You can use it to visualise your funding program and generate valuable and instant insights into where your money is going with OmniStar’s easy-to-read maps.

Save time using Bulk Review to review your applications

With OmniStar’s Bulk Review, reviewing applications is a piece of cake! You can review multiple applications in a single batch – freeing up time for all the other things on your to-do list. 

When you use Bulk Review, you can open a single review form and review multiple applications at the same time. While you’re doing that, you can also:

  • Declare or change conflict of interest information in individual applications;
  • Do a bulk download of documents from multiple applications; and
  • Update your review form across multiple sessions and then submit all of your application reviews together, when you’re done. 

Imagine all of the time you’ll save!

 

Protect, store, and suppose of your documents with confidence, with new features in Record Management System

To help you meet the National Archive’s publishing and disposal guidelines (National Archive Act 1983), we’ve updated OmniStar’s Record Management System. 

You can now:

  • Add a Protective marking – such as Official Protected, Confidential, Secret;
  • Add a Disposal hold – so your document will never be deleted!
  • Add a Disposal class – to manage how your document is stored in the longer term;
  • Add Notes – to provide additional information about your document;
  • Have more control over who can edit your documents; and 
  • Schedule tasks to delete documents, and then receive automated emails confirming the deletion. 

 

Keep track of project and agreement variations, with OmniStar’s new Project Variations Wizard

OmniStar’s new Project Variations Wizard gives you a birds-eye view of variations to your project. Fewer hassles and oversights for you; with any changes to things such as scheduling, contact details, project agreement, etc.., over the life of your project, now captured in one place. 

You’ll also see:

  • A more friendly user interface;
  • Easier-to-use Project Agreements located together;
  • Links between generated agreements and any subsequent variations;
  • Comments included within project agreements to aid communication between users; and
  • Improved publishing/ display of agreement documents. 

Here’s a round-up of our top five favourite OmniStar features and a brief description of them we put together for you.

In case you have missed them in our release notes. We hope to empower all users to get the most out of the platform.

 

QUICKLY AND EASILY FIND WHAT YOU NEED, WHEN YOU NEED IT WITH OUR GLOBAL SEARCH FEATURE

This feature is our unsung hero, getting you out of those frustrating moments when you just need to find something, quickly but you can’t!

Simply, click on the Search bar and enter the application, project, contract, review, panel or meeting that you need, and our Global Search feature will navigate to the right record from anywhere in the system.

 

GAIN A BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF YOUR APPLICATIONS

Stress no more when you manage multiple applications. Status Map is a handy feature that allows you to follow the logical progression of applications with ease. Quickly view which stage of the process your applications are. Not only that, when you hover over each step you can see what actions have been performed and which steps need to be performed.

Navigation to relevant functions is available so you can easily go to the next task to progress the current record to the next stage, including review/assessments, meetings, contract generation, project closure, among others.

 

TRACK CHANGES MAKE REVIEWING APPLICATIONS FOOL-PROOF

When you’re working in a remote world you understand how important collaborative features are. This is why the Track Changes feature is a huge time (life) saver. Now you can easily see application version submissions differences, in the same format as Microsoft Word. Making reviewing feedback a breeze.

 

THERE ARE TIMES WHEN YOU NEED LONG-TERM VISION AND OTHERS WHERE YOU NEED SHORT-TERM VISION

We understand that there are times when you need to zoom out and think about the bigger picture or zoom in and focus on a single day or week. For those moments, you need tools that assist you in narrowing in on the important tasks. With OmniStar you can simplify your planning with our Activity Tile feature.

OmniStar makes it dead simple for you to track your, or your team’s schedule. The system will automatically determine what activities need to be displayed and provides warnings when things are getting close to being due and are overdue. It can be set up to show your to-do list (by default) or a range of users’ to-do list. It displays:
• Tasks;
• Reviews;
• Issues;
• Risks.

 

NEVER MISS WHAT MATTERS THE MOST FOR YOU!

Fear to lose sight of high-priority projects or important applications? Worry no more, OmniStar got your back!

With Follow feature, you will never miss those critical projects and applications. When you click follow on projects and applications, they will:
• Be placed in your favourites list;
• Appear in your Activity tile by default;
• Be viewable by your managers on your to-do list.

Zarthost Boman
Written by: Sarah Jordaan April 2021

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