Streamlining Grants Management to
Help More Patients
Success Story - American Kidney Fund
The American Kidney Fund (AKF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that every kidney patient has access to health care, and that every person at risk for kidney disease is empowered to prevent it. AKF provides financial assistance to more than 84,000 dialysis patients in all 50 states. The assistance helps them maintain their health insurance coverage, and afford other critical expenses related to obtaining life-sustaining dialysis treatment.
AKF used an offline grants management software program to administer and manage its financial assistance programs. The program was developed when the volume of grants was significantly smaller. The system was cumbersome, lacked proper internal controls, had no online capabilities and was susceptible to outages. The system also required a lot of staff resources as all applications had to be inputted from incoming faxes or from paper applications mailed to AKF.
With a goal of improved efficiency and scalability, the organization engaged our team to assist with the planning for a new, modern system that would enable AKF to streamline processes and speed up services to patients and their partners.
Our Strategy and Approach
We utilized a disciplined process to evaluate the current end-to-end workflow, and then apply best practices to create a blueprint for process improvement and system design. This enabled AKF to force risk out of the project in the very early stages while also helping them document requirements and build a business case for implementing a new grant management system. The key activities involved in this project were to:
Clarify Needs and Build Stakeholder Consensus. We engaged key stakeholders early in the process, and collaborated on a common vision document that was used to check progress and to engage stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle.
Audit Business Processes. We analyzed the current grants management process to understand and identify gaps and inefficiencies in the current processes, and provide recommendations for process improvements.
Develop System Requirements. We utilized information from the vision document and the business process audit to develop a systems requirement document. This document served as the broad, technical requirements for the new system.
Prepare a Business Case with ROI Analysis. Finally, we formalized all of the previous work into a business case and return-on-investment analysis that was used as the basis for obtaining the needed funding for the project. The business case really highlighted issues that were impactful to both internal staff and patients, and provided a financial rationale for the investment in the new grants management system.
The work done on this project provided AKF with clear set of requirements and process improvements for the new grants management system. The management team used these, along with the business case, to present a request for funding of the project to senior management and their Board (which was ultimately approved). From there, the project team performed a formal RFP process and selected a vendor to develop the software.
The best outcome of the project was the ultimate launch of a new, more scalable grants management system that streamlined AKF's internal processes and saved money on data entry staff and other manual processes. Staff were able to provide a quicker turnaround of assistance to patients and, ultimately, service more patients due to the improved scalability of processes.
“The Team from Vendor Centric really assisted AKF in bringing a focused approach to evaluating and supporting the need for a modernized grants management system. AKF leveraged the work of Vendor Centric to make a compelling case to our Board and ultimately facilitated the work of the software vendor that Vendor Centric assisted us in selecting. Vendor Centric also utilized its network to bring the appropriate experts throughout the process to ensure a successful engagement. Vendor Centric consistently met its deadlines and moved the project along to ensure we did not get bogged down. If AKF were to do a similar project in the future we would definitely call Vendor Centric.”
Don Roy, EVP/COO and CFO
American Kidney Fund
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