The Bulgarian company has developed and implemented an enterprise-grade IS, which improves the management and control of grants provided under the EEA and Norway Grants Financial Mechanisms.
Sirma Solutions has created a web-based information system called GrACE (Grants Administration and Collaboration Environment), designed for grants administration, management, and collaboration between stakeholders. Four years ago, Sirma won the tender in an intense competition with 19 participants and was commissioned to develop, implement and maintain an enterprise-grade web-based information system.
The system is designed to manage grants provided by three donor countries - Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It covers the entire life cycle of the funding, regarding the management of business processes, documents, and financial flows for EEA / Norway Grants - Financial Mechanisms, allocated for 2014-2021 programs. GrACE will be used in the following programming periods.
Phase one of the project was completed at the end of 2018; afterwards, the system was intensively enhanced and upgraded with new monthly releases. GrACE provides a powerful and flexible reporting and control toolbox, which keeps track of financial mechanisms’ progress and effectiveness at different levels. The software platform enables overall financial and operational management of financial instruments and grants intended for beneficiary countries, donors, and external organizations.
The information database includes programs, invitations, projects, bilateral initiatives, agreements, budgets. The system reports the results, evaluations, audits, observations, identifies irregularities, risk management, creates forecasts, work plans, and payments and integration with bank systems.
The web-based application provides access to many stakeholders - public organizations in donor countries, different entities (national, regional and local, private and public) in the beneficiary countries, EFTA / FMO staff and others.
GrACE also offers numerous valuable functionalities, customized documents, and workflow management in operational management. It supports personalized, structured documents, performs online visualization, editing and co-authorship of MS Office documents, document templates, customized BPMN workflows, notifications and more. Most of the functionalities are freely available through mobile devices.
GrACE is built on a Microsoft-based technology stack (.NET, Microsoft IIS, MS SQL Server, MS Office 365 Server) in technical implementation. The IT infrastructure of the application is provided with a high degree of reliability through hardware virtualization, replication and backup site (VMware, Veeam). The implementation team of Sirma included 15 experts - six software developers, three business analysts, three QAs and support, one Scrum Master, one technical writer and one DevOps engineer.
The Financial Mechanism Organization(FMO) is based in Brussels and represents the secretariat that manages the grants for each seven-year programming period. The FMO is affiliated with the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) but is managed and reported to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. With a total budget of € 2.8 billion, the three donor countries provide grants to support thousands of projects implemented under 125 programs in 15 EU beneficiary countries. The funds support projects that are being implemented in the period 2017-2025.