Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bidding, Purchasing, Execution - Streamline Municipal Government Purchasing With EDM and Workflow

We've all heard the saying, "A penny saved is a penny earned." No one knows that better than government procurement workers. From fleet equipment and road salt through office supplies and light bulbs, each request is examined carefully before money is spent.
Purchasing the most suitable goods and services for the lowest cost requires significant information gathering and analysis. Some regulations govern the bidding process; others guard against vendor favoritism, fraud, and waste. Township, borough, and home-rule codes add to the complexity. The result: too many dollars saved in smart purchasing are spent on sniffing out the path to get there.
Procurement: a cumbersome process
Regulations govern everything. Rules determine bid advertising, opening, closing, and awards, as well as when bids may be opened (and by whom). They govern bonding of contractors and compliance with OSHA and Open Records laws. Prioritizing tasks, managing timelines, and meeting deadlines are imperative; noncompliance brings stiff penalties.
Imagine setting business rules electronically so the right work could be delivered to the right people at the right time. No more time spent frantically searching for information to meet a deadline or to respond to companies, builders' associations, or public inquiries. No more lost documents or delays due to staff illnesses, vacations, or oversights. No paper shuffling or multiple electronic searches. All of your business data would be available in one location, driving smarter decisions. Tasks would be prioritized for you so nothing is missed.
Fortunately, it's not a pipe dream. Web-based EDM and workflow tie all of your information together, delivering true efficiency-whenever you need it, wherever you are.
Digital information vs. EDM and workflow
Most likely, accounting, contract management, and other software applications are used by your department to store information digitally. Although each improves productivity, data is typically trapped in the applications, unable to be useful elsewhere. Data duplication, redundancy, errors, and omissions result.
In contrast, EDM creates a single, searchable digital repository for all of your data-whether it's in forms, images, or email. Seamless integration with legacy systems and line-of-business applications delivers needed information to desktops, PDAs, and other digital devices. By integrating disparate systems and making the data within them securely accessible, authorized staff gain new insights into purchasing options that lead to better and faster decisions. All the information they need is centrally searchable with the click of a mouse.
From purchase requests through bidding, review, awarding, project review, and payment, purchasing is a labyrinth of interdependent processes. Electronic workflow orchestrates the diverse actions that drive the procurement process from start to finish. Organizational hierarchies are observed, sequences are followed, and timelines are met. In short, it enforces your rules and ensures fair play.
Purchasing challenges: how EDM and workflow help
EDM and workflow facilitate tracking and expedite processing, making it easier to manage purchasing from beginning to end:
1. Collecting and evaluating bids
Whether you accept forms online or scan paper bids, auto-indexing ensures quick, thorough categorization of business-critical data. From bidding through contracting and project completion, all content-from scanned papers, online forms, bar-coded documents, and electronically captured emails, faxes, and images-is accessible through one central repository. Automatic date/time stamping establishes vendor compliance with timelines, helping you verify that bids are official.
2. Gathering bidder credentials
Workflow adds value to the files stored in the repository by gathering, packaging, and delivering materials as they are completed, including:
-Company history of competitive bidders;
-References and documentation from competed projects;
-Bid bonds;
-Labor and performance bonds;
-Paperwork containing required antidiscrimination clauses in the bidder's hiring practices;
-Status as a government-preferred vendor;
-And more.
By setting deadlines along with lists of required documents and their intended recipients, the timeconsuming chase after information is ended. Workflow tracks each document as it's received, following instructions for action without missing a beat.
3. Ensuring consistent, timely reviews
Since workflow follows established rules, every bid follows the same process, is reviewed using the same rules, and is managed on the same timeline. Digital date/time stamping of incoming files makes it easy to track whether deadlines are met. If workers attempt to award the job to a bidder who missed a deadline, system alerts guard against it. Consistency, fairness, and timeliness are guaranteed and documented.
4. Complying with Open Records and OSHA regulations
In addition to managing procurement paperwork and deadlines, staff must prove compliance with OSHA and Open Records laws. Whether there's concern about occupational hazards of a project or someone demanding public information, you have to comply-and quickly. Timely response doesn't require longer office hours since web-based EDM lets you access files remotely. When someone is absent, work is redistributed automatically according to your rules, ensuring a timely response. Searchable files and a digital trail of all communications makes it easy to provide proof if you're questioned.
5. Automating document retention
Digital migration of completed purchases and timely file destruction according to retention schedules helps address compliance requirements. These practices also allow you to eliminate paper clutter and storage costs. EDM and workflow make it easy, letting you set rules for migration and ensure continued centralized search of stored information. You can schedule destruction of files at appropriate times, and send alerts when the status of a file is about to change.
Put an end to costly disorganization
Digital storage and business process automation make sure you stay connected with your information and the work at hand, wherever you are. Rules-based extraction of data from applications sends information where it's needed. This eliminates data entry errors and duplication, and saves time. Automated rules for work processing ensure procedural consistency. Finally, EDM and workflow save on personnel, supply, and storage costs, freeing precious funds for more meaningful projects.
Get started on the right foot
Paperless. Profitable. Sustainable. Today, government is taking a leading role in moving from antiquated processing to 21st century efficiency. Chances are you know you need to make the move. So what's holding you back? Are you:
-Concerned the upfront investment is too great?
-Unsure where to find the technology you need, or how to choose the vendor that's right for you?
-Afraid your staff won't adapt?
-Uncertain how to assemble the right team to evaluate your needs and make sure the solution is right the first time?
If you're ready to get started, we offer the following informational materials to give you the knowledge and confidence you need:
-Developing an Enterprise Vision for Business Process Automation
-Planning and Executing Your ECM Project: Assembling the Right Team
-Manager's Checklist for Transitioning to a Paperless Office
-Indexing for the Enterprise: Retrieve Your Documents 100% of the Time
-Sustainable Government: Five Ways ECM Can Help You to Be Lean, Clean, and Green
Intelligent automation makes sure the administrative process of procuring the goods and services you need is as cost-effective as the goods you buy. With streamlined administration in place, you can procure the most suitable, highest quality goods and services for an even lower cost, helping you achieve more with every taxpayer dollar you collect. Imagine what your department could do with the dollars you'll save. Why wait?

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