Up and Out: Rising Above the Fog of Manual Tasks

When GrantBook speaks to foundation staff, they lament about having too many manual tasks – time consuming burdens that get in the way of strategic work. Whether your role is the Communication Specialist, Program Officer, Grants Manager, Comptroller or Foundation Executive, legacy processes paired with poorly configured technology creates wasted time and unnecessary work.

Examples include:

  • A communication specialist cutting and pasting an invitation list from emails and a grants management system
  • A comptroller pulling data from their accounting system, budget spreadsheet and grants management platform
  • A grants manager manually uploading documents into their grants management system
  • A foundation executive asking staff to send their spreadsheets over for the board book presentation

Many foundation staff aspire to do more strategic work. However, by the time they get settled back to their desks, they immediately are sucked back into the day-to-day (just ask any foundation staff member who has recently attended an inspiring philanthropy conference).

So how do we turn this frown upside down? How do we relieve pain points and get to the work that matters? 

The happy place where staff can focus on strategy.

To begin, we have to acknowledge the hidden villain: technology hype cycle. The hype cycle typically kicks off when a foundation staff member is introduced to a new tool (technology trigger). They get very excited thinking that the solution is going to save time or improve decision-making (peak of inflated expectations). However, a majority of the time the software that cost a lot of time and/or money does not meet expectations (trough of disillusionment). This is usually the point when the new technology is abandoned (abandonment). But every once and awhile – with a lot of planning and persistence – teams can experience workplace euphoria (plateau of productivity).

The Technology Hype Cycle is often the real villain behind people's disappointment when it comes to technology.

Workplace euphoria is the magical place where most (if not all) users needs are met. It is the part of the workplace productivity where there are few bottlenecks and workarounds. It affords team members with the time to sit around a table and spend time on strategy (seeing from a better vantage point), not on tasks (stuck in the fog).  

Whether it is a small foundation with a few staff or a larger organization with many staff, getting out of the fog and into a more strategic place is both necessary and achievable. 

Has your team been caught in the hype cycle? Are your team members stuck in the fog of manual tasks? If so, drop us a line.

Anil Patel

Co-Founder, Futurist & Design Thinker

Sector Trends, Future of Work, Design

With more than two decades' experience in philanthropy and technology, I have written, reviewed, reported, and/or optimized the process for thousands of grant proposals. This has provided me with a unique perspective on how to re-imagine the flow of philanthropic information, so that people can devote more time to the most purposeful work. Currently, I'm exploring the Future of Work: specifically, how automation, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) will disrupt most corners of the economy and many pockets of society.