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CalBar/SmartSimple Documentation, Configuration, and Assessment

Service Area
Tools Used
Client Type
Project Management
Software Development
A2J is working with CalBar to configure and document their extensive grant management program, SmartSimple


SmartSimple, because of its complex functionality and customizability, can be dense and intimidating for new users, who often have to learn SmartSimple on the fly to meet demanding state and federal grant application and evaluation deadlines.


CalBar needed secure and easy-to-understand documentation on using SmartSimple compiled into a user-friendly handbook, while also juggling the ongoing grant application and evaluation cycles.


A2J provided support in a variety of ways, from documentation to IT support in configurations to a final assessment of SmartSimple.


CalBar had been transitioning to SmartSimple, a complex, customized platform, as a new grant management program since 2015.


SmartSimple, while capable of a lot of functions that make grant application and management more automated, also has a steep learning curve. Additionally, CalBar was using a customized version of SmartSimple to accommodate its specific needs, so there was little-to-no preexisting documentation for staff members to rely on.


A2J worked closely with a team from both CalBar and SmartSimple to learn how to use the platform, following the 2021-2022 grant cycle to understand what was necessary for CalBar staff members to know how to do within SmartSimple. Based on extensive rounds of feedback and weekly meetings, A2J provided tech support with configuring and customizing SmartSimple while also documenting what steps were being taken on CalBar’s secure Microsoft Sharepoint platform. At the end of 2022, A2J interviewed various users of varying SmartSimple expertise, including both external grantee organization staff and internal CalBar staff, to compile both a subjective and objective assessment of SmartSimple’s capacity to meet CalBar’s needs.


SmartSimple geared towards different levels of users, from IT staff members at CalBar to grantee organization staff who may only interact with SmartSimple during grant application and evaluation periods. During the documentation process, A2J also assisted with the ongoing configuration of SmartSimple for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 grant year cycles. At the end, A2J also compiled an assessment of SmartSimple to help CalBar evaluate whether or not it was accurately meeting all of their needs as a large state bar association.

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Cal State Bar logo
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