6 Side Effects of NOT using Online Application Management Software

So, you are a very resourceful person—and a hard worker. Maybe you have six or seven people on your team who are also very resourceful. They may not ALL be hard workers, but as a team you do pretty darn well at this resourcefulness and hard work thing.

Maybe you know you can bring all the pieces of your application process together for a song by doing it manually, because you’ve been doing it already—or something like it. We believe you! But there are a few hidden side effects of managing a process manually and doing it for less. Shall we Reviewr?

Non-Application-Software-Management Side Effect #1: Papercuts

Because, you know…paper. Software is softer.

Non-Application-Software-Management Side Effect #2: Lack of Data Integrity

Have you ever been asked to compile a time-sensitive report for your superiors, only to realize you have never collected the data needed for the report — or it’s incomplete? It happens all the time when a manual process doesn’t have a way to “force” applicants to answer questions before submitting the app. If you’re accepting applications by email or on paper, it’s inevitable that some applicants will skip over some questions, thus skewing the data for your report.

When you use online application management software, you can require an answer before the application can be submitted. Each and every app will have the info your bosses need.

Other things that can go wrong with data when you don’t have the advantage of online application management software:

  • Email can go to wrong recipients and get lost in transmission
  • Hard copy documents can be misplaced
  • Someone might forget to save documents to the proper folder in Dropbox
  • Data received on applications may not be constant (in a consistent format)
  • Gathering of files and attachments can get confusing (and time consuming)
  • Incomplete applications mean more legwork and time (and nerves of steel)
  • Duplicate applications require more time to sort out the confusion
  • Inbox sorting can get complicated (Which email is a submission and which is just an email?)
  • Sharing data with others (team, reviewers, participants) can be inconsistent and open to error

Non-Application-Software-Management Side Effect #3: Ineffective Consolidation

It’s not unusual for programs to require applicants to send hard-copy applications through snail mail, but then require submittal of attachments (photos, letters of recommendation) through email.

Here’s how this disjointed process might work: An application comes in on paper. The staff scans it and creates a folder in the network (or worse, on their own desktop computer). When the email attachments come through, which app do they go with? Are you sure about that? Hmmm. The program manager compiles everything for each application in a computer file. When all applications have been received, it’s time to email everything to the review team, along with a spreadsheet that refers to all the pieces and keeps them straight. What do think the odds are that something will get lost or missed? Answer: Pretty darn high! It’s even worse when paper applications need to be corrected. When applicants send an edited app, suddenly you have two apps to keep straight.

Part of the problem is that manual processes often require storing application materials in separate third-party software programs. You might use email to collect apps, Dropbox to store them and then Excel to score them. By contrast, when it’s all linked together in a proper software program, everything is automatically consolidated and stored together throughout the entire process.

Non-Application-Software-Management Side Effect #4: Wasted Time & Increased Cost

Let’s begin by imagining, let’s say, one thousand applications. The cost for shipping and paper, in itself can be substantial (not to mention all the poor trees who will die for your cause). Add in the cost of multiple subscriptions to separate software programs.

And now for the piece d’ resistance: the human opportunity cost. This will depend on what your process looks like when you’re running it manually. Obviously, paperwork is drastically slower than email, and email is drastically slower than a dedicated application management software.

Here’s an example of a process that can cost loads in time, stress and sanity…

  1. Market the heck out of your program.
  2. Collect hundreds and hundreds of pages of applications from potentially thousands of people.
  3. Store these applications without losing any data.
  4. Package these applications up and send them to a review team potentially consisting of hundreds of people.
  5. Compile reviews and evaluations from hundreds of reviewers about potentially thousands of applications.
  6. Tabulate the results of these applications and rank them.
  7. Send follow-up communications and post-program marketing. This doesn’t even take into consideration the loads of communication, hours of reporting, and last-minute logistics (with deadlines).

Non-Application-Software-Management Side Effect #5: Poor User Experience

It’s bad enough that you may be putting yourself, your staff and reviewers through the mill with all of that paper and disconnected email. But when these issues start affecting your applicant experience…

We spoke with many participants who were not given the opportunity to submit applications using application management software. We were shocked to hear the grueling process they endured just to participate. To begin with, it was hard for them to understand rules and instructions. Some actually chose not to participate, because the process was just too daunting. They were asked to:

  • Submit multiple file types through Dropbox
  • Submit applications through email
  • Pay their entry fee via PayPal
  • Deliver a PDF to a reference to submit on their behalf
  • Repeat this process for future phases of review

Reviewers had an equally challenging scenario. They were asked to:

  • Download hundreds of large file types from random online databases
  • Review hundreds of large file types from random online databases
  • Use spreadsheets to record their feedback
  • Compile spreadsheets coordinating hundreds of large file types from random online databases
  • Re-upload this massive compiled file to Dropbox to share with the organization
  • Do you think these volunteers will be volunteering again? Um, no, probably not.

Application-Software-Management Side Effect #6: Lack of Support

It’s not uncommon that program managers are lone rangers without sidekicks. Yes, you heard that right! ONE PERSON is attempting to collect, upload, communicate, download, explain, sort, categorize, make rules and avoid thousands of paper cuts all by themselves.

Is this you? Wouldn’t it be nice to pick up the phone, waved the white flag and give up some of your burdens to a team of experts who:

  • Have been through this a billion times
  • Can leverage real-world experience with hundreds of different program types, applicants and reviewers
  • Know how to recognize the pitfalls and jump right over them
  • Work in teams that can easily slam through 100 last-minute questions from applicants right before deadline

Reviewer Online Application Management Software Saves Paper Cuts and Faces

We know you are resourceful and hard-working, but these six side effects of working manually and disjointedly could, at the very least, cause you a great deal of embarrassment, not to mention requiring a big box of Band-Aids for all those paper cuts.

Reviewer helps you avoid potential wounds and save face. Ask us about online application management software solutions to custom-fit your program.