Case Study

Greenville County, South Carolina, Accelerates Solicitation Development by 91% and Expands Vendor Network

See How Greenville County Is Utilizing Online Procurement Software

Until recently, procurement was a painstaking, overwhelming process for staff of rapidly growing Greenville County, SC. That is, until they looked to online procurement software.

Procurement in South Carolina’s most populous County (population 525,000+) involved a series of manual processes and paper shuffling. Solicitations were developed in Microsoft Word, converted to a PDF, launched on the appropriate web page, and sent to suppliers. Vendors returned responses in hard copy, of which multiple copies were made and stored in binders.

Something had to change.

“We decided we had a system that had an electronic bid [option],” Procurement Director Bob Brewer said. “Once we started looking at it, it was good. It was an easy process to use, but our implementation was still six months down the road, and unfortunately, Covid hit.”

Bob and his team knew they had to kick their plans into a higher gear. But the implementation didn’t go as planned, and they soon found themselves reverting to the old paper methods.

And then they discovered OpenGov Procurement and jumped in with both feet.

Population
516,126

Agency Type
County

Annual Budget
208,000,000

Role
Procurement

Region
Southeast

Solution
Procurement

Customer Results

91% Faster Solicitation Development

Increased Solicitation Responses

Improved Staff, Vendor Satisfaction

Now, when staff makes a procurement request, they visit the OpenGov portal, answer a few questions, enter the scope of work, and submit. The procurement team then reviews the submission, turns it over to an RFP or IFB, and launches it online to the public.

“It’s so easy for them to do,” Bob said. “Most of our departments have said, ‘This is great. We love this new system.’”

Solicitation Development: From Weeks to Days

It’s a common complaint within many municipalities—Procurement processes take too long, delaying much needed supplies and services. Indeed, in Greenville County, developing manual solicitations took weeks, perhaps as long as a month. Today, thanks to online procurement software, solicitation development takes just two to three days.

Now, requesters know up front what information is needed. Once requests are in queue, staff can use the portal to track their project—no need to call or send an email for an update. Thanks to these streamlined workflows, Bob has noticed improved attitudes toward Procurement.

“It’s become an easier process for them,” he said. “They can pretty much see step-by-step what we can do and where their project is.”

The same goes for vendors. The County’s process is transparent. Vendors using OpenGov follow a project through the process, as well as see who was awarded the bid and for how much.

“It’s become a lot quicker, a lot faster for everybody,” Bob said.

Even change orders and amendments are easy to manage

“It was always cumbersome to write these amendments to our solicitations in the past because you had to go [through] line-by-line detail of what was changed and why it was changed,” he said. “Now it’s so great because we can go into OpenGov, go to our document, make the changes, and say, ‘OK, these changes are under the scope of work.’”

Those needing to see the updates no longer get a separate document that explains the changes. Instead, they see them tracked through color-coded mark-up language.

“This has been great because everything is on one page,” Bob said. “Vendors like it because they know what they are looking for.”

Expanding the Vendor Network

Before OpenGov, Greenville County staff would send solicitations to the vendors they knew. While the vendor list was significant, it certainly was not all-inclusive. That has changed with OpenGov Procurement. Now, vendors are finding them. And, applications aren’t just limited to Greenville County or South Carolina, for that matter. In the case of construction bids, some come from out of state.

“So, we’ve got a bigger vendor source now, and that’s great,” Bob said.

By reviewing vendor analytics, Bob and his staff can see which vendors follow and download the projects. They can even tell which vendors opt not to bid or when government RFP curators, like BidNet, are gathering information.

“Organizations like BidNet can follow it and don’t have to email or we don’t have to talk to them over the phone. They can find the information now,” he said.

Procurement Software Skeptics Turned into Raving Fans

While the procurement team has received many accolades from staff and vendors for implementing OpenGov Procurement, as with any change, they had a few dissenters.

“We still have our challenges,” Bob said. “We still have old-school people who don’t like to come into the electronic side of things.”

But a relatively easy transition and showing the benefits of online procurement software turned them into supporters. Bob credits the implementation and related training for helping change peoples’ minds. 

“Once they saw it, they use it all the time. Same for vendors,” he said.

Training was done for one hour a week for eight weeks. Staff learned the system fairly quickly—their primary questions were answered in the first meeting. Setting up templates took about a week. The biggest obstacle: alerting vendors of the change. That involved sending the 500 vendors a letter and working with the Information Systems team to ensure the website was up to date and linked back to the OpenGov portal. Once that was done, it was all systems go.

“We’ve had a great experience with OpenGov,” Bob said. “We’re very fortunate to have this right now. It’s a great program that is proven.”

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