It’s no secret that Procurement organizations across industries were hit hard with challenges arising from Covid-19. In the public sector, these challenges have the potential to impact entire municipalities. e Procurement systems are helping government agencies not only overcome those challenges but create new efficiencies never before possible, manage spend more effectively and deliver more value to the public.
Ivalua recently hosted a webinar to hear from Procurement leaders about how e Procurement can transform historically lengthy and manual processes, enabling governmental organizations to pivot quickly and adapt in times of crisis while, at the same time, providing long-term benefits. The panel examined two real-world case studies: The Los Angeles Department of Water (LADWP) and New York City.
Case Study 1: LADWP Shifts to e Procurement in Response to the Covid-19 pandemic
The LADWP is the largest municipal water and power utility in the country, serving 4 million residents. Prior to COVID-19, the agency accepted supplier bids by mail or in person — two methods that in an instant became impossible. How would they be able to enlist the support of critical contractors during an emerging crisis without a safe way to accept bid and proposal information?
The LADWP turned to Ivalua, who, in just one week, developed an e Procurement system that streamlined the supplier account request process and enabled suppliers to upload secure, sealed bid packages remotely.
The challenge involved building a custom supplier portal — a dropbox where suppliers could safely submit their bids online. “It was the fastest implementation that we’ve ever done, which speaks a lot to the individuals involved, their commitment to our customers and also the platform,” said Jarrod McAdoo, Ivalua’s Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Ivalua and a participant in our panel discussion.
Jason Busch, Founder of Azul Partners and Procurement Advisor and Futurist Hal Good agreed that digital sourcing is really an opportunity not just to receive and negotiate bids, but to collect supplier information. This, they say, can fuel other Procurement processes that have downstream benefits.
“For years, we thought to be progressive was to move down the road just in time, and to make ‘just in time’ relevant to everything we did.” Good said. “With Covid-19, we were confronted with an environment where it’s not ‘just in time’ but ‘just in case,’ and that means being able to get what we need when we need it, and manage supply chain risk at the same time. Partnering with suppliers and internal people in the digital environment allows Procurement to bring people on board to manage risk in a way that was never open to us before, and it’s never more important than it is now,” Good said.
“In a crisis situation such as Covid-19, in which so many government employees and suppliers are working remotely, being able to research a supplier that’s in the system, or direct suppliers to go online and make updates, is just huge,” said Busch. “The right digital solutions can make a big difference.”
On Upcoming Trends
The webinar wrapped up with a look at trends the panel saw coming down the pike. Good commented on how the digital environment is enabling procurement teams and suppliers to collaborate more effectively than they ever have.
“One of the things that we’ve always been challenged with in the public sector is acquiring resources,” said Good. “The digital environment allows us to make our information — and the benefits of having it — transparent to the C-suite. At the same time, it allows us to selectively make it available to the general public. Procurement can shine as never before, because we can accomplish fantastic results as a result of increased collaboration in the digital environment.”
McAdoo echoed this point, adding that Covid-19 had the unexpected benefit of driving innovation and new opportunities to share ideas.
Finally, Busch pointed out how digital provides much greater flexibility to implement products and solutions that benefit the public. He offered a hypothetical example of deploying a new virus-cancelling device on public property, and the ability to expedite the process using digital technologies. “The goal of public procurement is to provide value for taxpayers, and value is not just savings,” he said. “If we can deliver additional value beyond our charter, everyone wins.”