At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lebanon, NH was facing major process and sourcing challenges, especially during the solicitation development process. City Manager Shaun Mulholland understood that swift technological change would be paramount in tackling the painpoints faced by his internal customers and the City’s constituents alike.
Though she owns the title of Chief Innovation Officer, Melanie McDonough describes Mulholland as the “Chief-Chief Innovation Officer,” as he constantly focuses on improvement and empowering his team. In this case, he quickly provided them with the essential training, tools, and software that “saved the agency,” according to McDonough.
“Before using OpenGov, one of the big concerns was that we were going to lose people and no one would remember the proper policies and processes. Now, all of our crucial data and workflows are built into the software.”
Melanie McDonough, CInO, Lebanon, NH
Faster, consistent, and compliant solicitations
Quick implementation and adoption
Less errors thanks to no back-and-forth emails
Reconsidering Inconsistent Challenging Solicitation Assembly
Before McDonough and Mulholland were able to secure digital tools that empowered their agency’s procurement process, McDonough recalls the challenges of sourcing goods and services using a decentralized, paper-heavy process.
“We were posting bids directly onto our site, getting little traction. We had no analytics or automated communications between our suppliers and us. Another major factor was that the Department of Public Works was challenged with keeping track of vendor bid responses through email. This was a confusing, time-consuming, and often frustrating process.”
Additionally, internal customers were assembling intake requests by copying and pasting using word processors, often hoping that their scope language was up-to-date and accurate.This was potentially putting the agency at compliance risk. Something needed to change.
Quick Adoption and Accurate Scopes
After attending an event held by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), Mulholland told his team that he had found a solution to their challenges that would promote transparency, collaboration and accuracy: OpenGov Procurement. Shortly after the software was implemented, McDonough and team began to appreciate the benefits of modern procurement.
“Now the City Manager, Legal, and other stakeholders are able to collaborate at a single source to develop accurate scope language,” said McDonough. Though very inclusive, “admins are still able to keep control, as they have the ability to comment on and approve individual sections within the solicitation. The quality and efficiency is so much greater.”
In particular, McDonough said that she “loves the helper text,” which interviews users with templatized agency-specific scope questions. Once each question is answered using a single click, the scope-of-work terms (pricing sheet, bid instructions, insurance requirements, etc.) are automatically populated onto the solicitation draft.
“It’s so easy to use that hired consultants were able to build bids on their first try. The staff feels so much more comfortable knowing they don’t have to know all of the agency’s policies, it’s built into the software.”
Pleasing the Public
In addition to more consistent and accurate solicitations, the agency has received positive feedback from both vendors and constituents. Vendors have expressed how much they enjoy the solicitation response experience, as it’s guided and intuitive. The City also appreciates the public contract portal that provides accessibility and transparency for residents, while reducing public records requests.
“OpenGov was definitely our software winner of the year for ease of deployment, functionality, ongoing support, and meeting all expectations,” said McDonough.
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