Finding an e-sourcing solution that fits municipality needs
The City of Johns Creek, Georgia was looking for a way to streamline their purchasing process. When John Henderson, Purchasing Manager for the City of Johns Creek, began researching available options, he noticed that municipalities and other governments across the country were switching to e-procurement solutions. Seeing the potential for the technology to improve his city’s procurement activities, Henderson brought the idea up to the finance director and was given the “green light” to move forward on the project. Henderson reached out to several service providers, and after a few talks with other cities to see e-sourcing technology in action, he decided that BidNet Direct was the solution he was looking for.
Why BidNet Direct?
“We selected BidNet Direct because of the ease, the simplicity, and the user-friendly format” of the BidNet Direct e-procurement solution, says Henderson. “We are very impressed with the customer service and the people that represent BidNet… They’ve been super responsive.” BidNet Direct has multiple regional purchasing groups allowing like-minded local government organizations from the same state to reach local vendors looking to do business with governments in the area. BidNet Direct launched the Georgia Purchasing Group with Johns Creek as the founding government user.
The ease with which Johns Creek was able to transition the city’s procurement processes to the BidNet Direct solution was a major plus for Henderson, who was impressed with how smooth the process was.
“[BidNet] met all of the legal requirements that we were looking for… I didn’t have to change anything, as far as policy goes, in order to set this up.” The City was looking for a solution that would save the purchasing department and the vendor community time.
Henderson saw the results immediately. “For us to be able to see the [bid] results instantaneously was just amazing… We just loved that feature,” he says.
Electronic bid submission
Online bid submission allows for the secure submission of quotes, qualification information, and supporting documents by vendors. Vendors also appreciate the ability to submit bids electronically. “[Vendors] can submit [bids] from their laptop or desktop and don’t have to come to physical bid openings anymore… [They don’t have to] fight this terrible Atlanta traffic!”
Henderson says that vendors found the learning curve involved with the Georgia Purchasing Group to be very manageable, including the vendor self-registration, viewing solicitations, downloading documents and online bid responses. Any questions the vendors have had are quickly answered by the customer service department.
“[The solution] is very easy to navigate… it walks you through the process. The feedback that I’m getting from vendors [is] they love it,” says Henderson, before noting that the transparency of the bid process is also a plus for vendors. “After a bid closes, [vendors] get the [results] instantaneously and can see where they stand, and how they rank, against all of the competitors.”
Other e-sourcing features
The online tabulation feature has also generated a lot of positive responses from both the purchasing team and its vendors, but the BidNet Direct feature that Henderson appreciates most is the approval workflow. He stresses how important the workflow is for his department, and how e-sourcing has transformed that process for the better, reducing the time needed to prepare documentation and to receive the approvals necessary to publish a bid.
“When we get ready to post a bid, we have all the information that we need to post it,” says Henderson. “BidNet Direct has definitely streamlined the process… There’s no more manual processing. All of my boilerplate [bid] information is preloaded in the pre-attached document section - all [my team has] to do is post the specification and list line items for the vendors to bid [on].”
It’s clear that the BidNet Direct e-sourcing solution has made the procurement process much easier for the City of Johns Creek and their vendors. As Henderson and his team continue to evaluate and adopt new modules of the solution – including contract management and bid evaluation – their process will only become more streamlined and efficient.
Asked to sum up his experience with BidNet Direct, Henderson is succinct: “We’re very happy with the system.”