Buyer’s guide to submission management software

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Buyer’s Guide to Submission Management Software

According to the Society of Association Executives, “Associations that focus on leveraging data, improving processes, and investing in new technologies, the hard work will likely pay off in more engaged and satisfied members”. So, in the case of submission management software for your awards, grants, scholarships, competitions, etc – how do we evaluate and invest in the right tool?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this webinar we dive into what to look for when evaluating submission management software, what questions to ask your potential vendor, and the essential features you need for success. Without further ado, here is your Buyer’s Guide to Submission Management Software. Let’s get started.

Questions to ask

Evaluating your potential submission management software vendor should be like dating, get to know them before getting married. The first step in the Buyer’s Guide to Submission Management Software is to ask questions.This means spending time on due diligence and digging deep into what your needs are and how they align within that software. Here are some key elements to discuss:

  • History
    • Why does the company exist and why do they do what they do?
      • Did their team come from your industry and experience the same challenges you are looking to solve?
      • What drives them to continue to innovate and provide their clients value? 
      • How long have they been in business?
      • What does their product development and feature release schedule look like?
      • What’s their year over year customer retention rate?
      • Is software development performed in house or outsourced?
      • Are references available?
  • Data and security
    • What type of security protocols and policies are in place?
    • What security needs are essential to your needs?
      • Avoid vetting vendors on security protocols not necessary to your needs – you may unjustly disqualify the right tool for you.
    • Who owns the data captured in the software?
    • Where, and how, is the data stored?
    • Is the data and security protocols documented?
  • Support
    • What is the customer support policy?
    • What are request and support turn around times?
    • Where is the support staff located and is it outsourced?
    • What does the on-boarding process look like?
    • How long does implementation take?
    • Will you have a dedicated account manager?
  • Budget
    • Discussing budgets doesn’t have to be taboo. 
    • What is the investment?
    • Does the pricing model actually make sense?
    • What does the investment look like long term as your program continues to grow?
    • What does the investment look like with multi year commitments?
    • Do you have a partner program (i,e, referral bonuses)?
    • Remember – the investment isn’t an arbitrary dollar mount – it reflects the value associated with solving the challenges you seek solution for.

Essential Features

The 2nd step in the Buyer’s Guide to Submission Management Software is verifying the tool has the essential features you need. What constitutes as an “essential feature” is going to be different for everyone. It’s vital to audit your awards, grants, scholarships, competitions, etc to define what features are essential to you. Reviewr has an endless list of features but in speaking with clients, we have narrowed down a list of three main categories (Submissions, Administrative, and Evaluation) and specific features within. For more essential features, check out the webinar, “3 must have tools for award, grant, and scholarship managers”.

  •  Product development philosophy
    • This drives everything – how are features selected for development
  • Submission management
    • Submission management software is more than just online forms.
    • The online forms are just one element that makes up the submission – the applicants profile.
    • Other elements consist of file uploads, payment, communication, results, etc.
    • Collect files, including multimedia, and have a way to manage and access them.
      • In Reviewr, files get embedded in the software for quick and easy access.
    • Program specific submission features.
      • Letters of recommendation
      • Transcripts
      • Online payment capture
      • Conditional logic and workflows
      • Save and return capability
      • Automated confirmation emails
      • Ongoing additions and edits of an applicants profile
  • Administrative tools
    • Program insights and visibility
      • Quick pulse check of key program metrics
      • Dates and deadlines at a glance
      • Make changes on the fly at any time on your own
    • Reporting
      • Data is king 
      • What reporting do you need and how is it accessible
      • Think long term reporting and archiving – this helps define what data needs to be collected during the initial setup process
      • Check out our webinar diving deeper into this by clicking here.
    • Access to submissions/profiles
      • Sort, filter, and find entries
      • Access submission data and profiles
      • Easily manage and navigate content within the profile. This includes:
        • Files
        • Comments
        • Evaluations
        • Workflows
        • Form data
    • Create workflows
      • Workflows can consist of things like:
        • Phases/rounds
        • Evaluation groupings
          • Assign entries to judges/reviewers
            • Dedicated tools for the many ways entries may be assigned to teams.
        • Categorization
    • Communication
      • Email templates
      • Built in notes and comments
      • Bulk notifications and emails
  • Evaluation tools
    • How entries are evaluated is generally unique to everyones workflow – there is no one size fits all. Tools like Reviewr must be equipped to cover it all.
    • Full circle, all-in-one, online evalaution/review.
    • Assign entries to evaluation teams/reviewers/judges.
    • Unique scoring process
      • Scorecards
      • Weighted scoring
      • Subjective deliberation
      • Forced ranking
      • Public voting
      • Simple approve/deny
    • Different evaluation/scoring process for each workflow/phase
    • Automated results
      • Avoid human error by automatic tabulation based on your unique evaluation needs.
    • The experience rules all – review teams are often volunteers and desire a simple, yet powerful, review tool. Gone are the days of emails, spreadsheets, and paper. 

Social Proof

The final step in the Buyer’s Guide to Submission Management Software is gathering social proof. At Reviewr, we’ve seen everything. We like to think we know a thing or two about running world class awards, grants, scholarships, competitions, etc – but no one knows more than our clients. It’s critical in your journey of evaluating a submission management software that you gain social proof by looking up online reviews, reading testimonials, and auditing references. Here are some powerful quotes and testimonials pulled from our Capterra and G2 reviews.

William A.
William A.
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I run a grants program through reviewr and having all participants (applicants, judges, administrators) all log in through one central website is an amazing time saver for everything we do with it. The final result looks excellent and the user interface and experience for participants is fantastic. I can't emphasize how much the customer service is the final selling point for this product.
Kaylin B.
Kaylin B.
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We switched to Reviewr after years of using an online survey facilitator to help gather and review hundreds of submissions for an annual awards program. It was BEYOND time! Not only is it a simple process for submittors (who can submit, return and edit up until our deadline without creating duplicate entries) but it is a simple process for my team on the backend to keep track of the number of submissions, organize by category and download. The all-in-one process between submission collection, outside/internal review and public voting is incredible - where our process used to consist of a LOT of copy and paste, we now just click check boxes and assign submissions to the next step.
Anne B.
Anne B.
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We implemented Reviewr at our small non-profit last year and are so glad that we did. The product helps us to run three processes: our grant awards, our scholarship awards, and our employee awards. Nominators love the system because they can easily log in and start their application. They can save it and come back later. Our reviewers love the system as well. They are easily able to log in and see all the parts of the applications quickly and easily. They LOVE the system. Most importantly, the staff of Reviewr is fabulous. They listened to our needs and had all sorts of creative suggestions as to how we could improve our process.
Diana L.
Diana L.
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From the admin side, this platform is extremely efficient and easy to customize. We use it to run a case competition across multiple schools and regions and it is very easy to organize and manage submissions through different rounds and groups of judging. We tried a few different platforms before Reviewr and this was by far the most flexible.
Mallory M.
Mallory M.
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Our organization launched a major awards program for the first time using Reviewr to manage our submission process. Given the amount of data required on behalf of both nominators and nominees, I cannot even begin to imagine how we would have shared the content with our evaluators without Reviewr. This program allowed me to focus my time on communicating with all parties involved and less on the logistics of printing, organizing and tabulating. Three years later, we are still using Reviewr and it is well worth the investment. I find it to be very easy for our users as well as our staff and evaluators to navigate.
Andy D.
Andy D.
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Reviewr has saved my team several days of work throughout the awards nomination, evaluation, and selection process. The interface is easy for our members to use and reduced questions to our call center. Reviewr sped up the process of assigning nominations to evaulators by several days, if not a full week. It also made calculating the scores and identifying top candidates a breeze.
Susan C.
Susan C.
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Reviewr has provided a platform that is easy to use and easy to share with scholarship applicants and judges alike. The support for building and re-designing has been wonderful! After discussing the benefits of various options, changes are made quickly and without complaint. Plus, information is stored from one year to the next, which makes the next year's efforts easier. Using Reviewr decreased the staff time for the scholarship program by 60%.
Joshua H.
Joshua H.
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We have been using Reviewr for five years now and the platform and client success team together are one of the most important parts of our large awards programs. We use the platform for the entire application, evaluation, scoring, live presentations/interviews, and data/images/resources collection process. There are so many moving parts and functions that used to be handled by several software apps and manual processes. Having them all in one place with one portal and one super reliable and responsive support expert has saved us thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours.
Amy S.
Amy S.
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I no longer have to spend an entire day photocopying applications or receive scores from judges only to find their Excel spreadsheet is empty---true story! Easy for teachers to apply for our grants, easy for students to apply for our scholarship, easy for judges and easy for me. Win!

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