I've been asked to use CiviCase for tracking grants that my organisation is applying for but am unsure where to start. I'm trying it out with sample data, so I've created a contact called "Dummy Grant Body". I have also created a 'Case type' called 'Grant application'. So, under the "Dummy Grant Body" contact, I want to add activities like "initial grant enquiry", "grant application", "grant awarded/denied" etc. I have also been asked to do this in a way that shows grant deadlines/our activities in a timeline. I really don't know where to start and wonder if I need the help of a developer or is this something people have managed to do by themselves? Thank you! Lara
Have you had a look at CiviGrant? Although the workflow is not very detailed it does help to track what you have. You could set up a case type for the Grant process. This is something people have done by themselves. If you find you are stuck I would recommend you get functional support for a couple of hours. You might even need a developer (depending on what you want to achieve) but I would certainly NOT start there if you are not clear on where you need to go.
I really don't know where to start and wonder if I need the help of a developer or is this something people have managed to do by themselves?
To a certain degree, this depends on the CiviCRM version you are using. 4.5 (if I am right) introduced a very nice configuration interface anyone can master. Before, case configuration required some tedious writing of XML config files etc.
Before getting to work, you should really try and understand the main concepts, i.e. the relationship between activities and cases, how contacts come in etc.. It boils down to this: First you define a case type and configure a fixed timeline of activities (typically, you will define specific activity types your case model requires). Now every time anyone creates a case of that type, the whole set of (future) activities is created along the timeline. A case has a target contact to which all the case data will be related. The details are covered here, a thorough reading should get you started.
It might also be a good exercise to analyze the process you are going to support with CiviCase. You can use Business Model and Notation (BPMN) for a graphical representation of your process/case. This will tell you, among other things, which activity types and roles you need.
There's an excellent article on this topic on the CiviCRM blog outlining your various options. It's from 2011, but the basics are all still relevant: Enhanced grant tracking: CiviGrant vs. CiviCase.