One of the common challenges that public agencies face is the need to do more with less resources. In Palo Alto’s Purchasing and Contract Administration, vendors and customers are usually frustrated by the inefficiencies of public purchasing because it often takes weeks or even months to deliver the necessary procurement services required.
Palo Alto is restricted by lack of budget and languishing technology that makes the purchasing office highly reliant on paper that demands more staff. Since the city has started to focus on operational sustainability, the procurement office saw this as an opportunity to improve the team’s effectiveness by addressing the need for technology and innovation.
It was very obvious that the purchasing office needed electronic document management system because of the paper records and filing systems that crowded the office space. However, another big challenge is faced by the team; it is the culture shift from the traditional paper-based legacy to the practice of using technology innovations as a more feasible solution.
Unlike the private sector where they undergo constant changes to remain competitive in the market, the government is hindered by accountability. Sometimes, it is difficult for employees to accept changes because they have been following a certain process for years. Going paperless can be daunting for some employees.
However, if the electronic document management system is established, workflow in the office will be reengineered towards purely electronic processes. Instead of the typical methods of collaboration through emails, spreadsheets and phone messages, cloud-based services will automate the entire system. Time savings that will be achieved can be redirected to servicing customers.
Instead of weeks and months, processing will only take minutes. Errors will be reduced, control and compliance will be increased and employee morale will be enhanced because there will be less stress in the performance of the job.
Managing workflow can be particularly challenging but there are tips for workflow coordination to improve efficiency and productivity. When workflow is coordinated properly, there is a universal location that employees can access and follow. With improved coordination, communication within the business is also enhanced and the team becomes knowledgeable on everything that is happening.