Carmarthenshire County Council
Carmarthenshire County Council has developed an innovative database to improve management information on all stages of grants. The Corporate External Funding Database (CEFD) complemented the Council's other grants management initiatives.
What were the issues?
The Council's Corporate Strategy identified the need to maximise external funding and the Council therefore set out to improve various aspects of grants management.
Another issue was that the Council was missing opportunities to maximise external funding because two or more departments were either not working together to submit joint bids or were actually bidding against one another.
The Council identified the need for a central database which could track all stages of the grant process.
Actions - what we did
The Council decided to develop a bespoke database. This was achieved by the Council's own software development officers working with the West Wales European Centre and the Financial Services Division.
CEFD now contains details of all externally-funded projects, allowing officers to monitor and manage ongoing projects. A particular strength of CEFD is its easy-to-use search facility on the Council's intranet.
Future CEFD developments will include:
Benefits and successes
Developing CEFD in-house led to significant financial savings. Other benefits of CEFD include:
CEFD will assist project officers to collate the necessary supporting figures and documentation, enabling grant claims to be submitted sooner. And the database makes it easier for projects to be handed over from one officer to another. Additionally, the ability to share information between officers in different departments is encouraging far greater partnership working.
Key learning points
A good grants database supports bidding effort as well as aiding project management and financial control.
Collaboration between different departments improves the quality of bids as well as avoiding competition and duplicated effort.
It is possible to have a single database containing all of the key information and reference documents for several hundred different projects. This aids communication, especially where responsibilities pass from one officer to another.
Taking a holistic approach for all grant-related activity ensures that all matters are addressed. It also gives complementary initiatives the best chance of succeeding.