Case Study

Pasadena, CA Speeds Up Onboarding With Automated Solicitation Development

Nestled at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains lies the thriving City of Pasadena, CA, home to the beloved Rose Parade and the prestigious California Institute of Technology. 

Despite the City’s popularity, Procurement was not feeling the love. Like many other local governments, the team grappled with turnover and a growing to-do list. 

To protect process integrity while reducing the workload (and burnout) for staff, Antonio Watson, a project manager for the City, looked at ways to overhaul the procurement process by focusing on what he could streamline and automate to ensure compliance and reduce the heavy lift of solicitation development.

Watson partnered with OpenGov Procurement to rewire the purchasing process and build rules and standard templates into the platform. Reducing manual work improved the overall efficiency and outcomes for the City while easing the load on staff and reducing the time it took to onboard new team members.

“If six months is considered the benchmark to train a new staff member, we can now get that same person ready in half the time.”

Antonio Watson, Project Manager, Pasadena, CA

Customer Results

2x Easier to Onboard New Staff

Rules-based, Prompt-driven Solicitation Development Process

Single Source of Truth for All Solicitations, Bids, and Contracts

Online Does Not Equal Digital

Pasadena released an average of 337 solicitations per year between 2015 and 2021. However, in 2021 alone, the number surged to over 451 solicitations. To address this surge, the City purchased an online system but quickly realized it did not alleviate the pain of solicitation development.

The City still faced the challenge of pulling together all the right pieces for each solicitation. 

Information was managed outside the system requiring team members to hunt and peck in shared files to find what they were looking for each time. The system also did not ensure that each solicitation through bid and contracting was managed in the same place to protect institutional knowledge when team members departed. 

“There was something of a spiderweb of data being exchanged between departments, folks who manage different ordinances and processes from legal to public works intersect through purchasing… All of this communication was done manually at the time,” said Watson. 

After reviewing multiple software vendors, the City ultimately decided on OpenGov as a “comprehensive tool” that provides electronic bidding and streamlines the solicitation development process. 

“We realized very quickly we didn’t just need an e-procurement tool. We needed something to help manage e-procurement and the process, most pointedly, everything leading up to the release of a solicitation.”

– Antonio Watson, Project Manager, Pasadena, CA

Building a Process that Could Stand the Test of Turnover 

The City rewired the solicitation development process, fostering seamless collaboration with other departments and eliminating the reliance on shared files and static or printed documents. By centralizing solicitation development within a real-time platform, the City no longer relied on cumbersome email threads and track changes to make updates to a bid document. 

By utilizing OpenGov Procurement’s standardized templates and pre-approved language, staff members could swiftly generate and customize solicitation documents, substantially reducing the time and effort. 

“For us, it’s critical that we have a system that at least takes some of the thinking off the table for certain decisions where, you know, they can reside in boilerplates,” said Watson.

By harnessing the power of templates and boilerplates to construct bids, the City has changed how they train newcomers in solicitation development. 

“If six months is considered the benchmark to train a new staff member, we can now get that same person ready in half the time,” Watson said.

This automated and user-friendly tool alleviates some of the stress placed on existing team members who must pick up the slack when team members depart and as new team members are trained. And the value extends beyond Procurement since any stakeholder or business partner across the City’s departments can more easily understand the process and be a better partner.

“Now, we can coordinate all of our updates to a solicitation… And it is flexible enough to communicate with different departments, from public works to libraries, in the same way,” said Watson.

By adopting this comprehensive solution, the City addressed the challenges of managing a growing number of solicitations and streamlining cross-departmental collaboration. With these advancements, the City of Pasadena is poised to meet procurement demands while mitigating turnover. 

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