CalBar had been transitioning to SmartSimple, a complex, customized platform, as a new grant management program since 2015. While capable of a lot of functions that make grant application and management more automated, SmartSimple 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.
During the 2021-2022 grant cycle, A2J Tech collaborated with teams from both CalBar and SmartSimple to master the platform, focusing on the skills essential for CalBar staff in navigating SmartSimple. Through regular weekly meetings and a thorough process of gathering feedback, A2J not only assisted in configuring and customizing SmartSimple but also documented each step of the process on CalBar’s Microsoft SharePoint platform. By the end of 2022, A2J conducted interviews with a range of SmartSimple users, including staff from external grantee organizations and internal CalBar members, with varying levels of expertise. This approach helped A2J to gather a comprehensive evaluation of SmartSimple, combining both subjective experiences and objective data to assess its effectiveness in meeting CalBar's requirements.
SmartSimple is 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.