Case study: Saving time and increasing transparency by managing contracts online
Digital Solutions for Contract Management
Do paper contracts and contract request forms sit for days or weeks at your local government waiting for approval? Do departmental, finance, and legal team members get frustrated tracking down status updates and emailing back and forth? Do staff struggle to find out the status of contracts when vendors ask? Here's how the City of West Hollywood used ClearForms to streamline and speed up their contract approval process.
Francisco Contreras, AICP, West Hollywood’s innovation manager, has been a strong advocate for internal digital services for staff (as well as for public-facing digital applications). West Hollywood uses ClearForms (formerly CityGrows) for both internal and external workflows, and has built new workflows from scratch for its Encroachment Permit, as well as drawn on other ClearForms' users templates to get up and running quickly with parking permits.
Contracting has been one of the more challenging workflows for local governments to bring online, even though increasing the speed of contract review and approval benefits everyone involved. While some organizations like Los Angeles County spend millions of dollars and years of staff time building out contract management systems, the City of West Hollywood used ClearForms to create a functional contract tracking system that's helped their Finance department reduce the time it takes to forward new contracts to their City Attorney by several weeks.
With ClearForms, both the staffer requesting the new contract and the finance team can all see the status of any contract in real time. That makes it almost impossible for it to get stuck in one of the many review steps, and when needed it's easy for managers to request additional information and nudge the process forward. What had previously sometimes taken months is now reliably a 7-10 day process.
Key benefits of digital contract management
Multiple staff can be reviewing and approving simultaneously, and the system sends automatic updates when key milestones are reached to keep everyone in the loop. The contract review workflow involves uploading Certificates of Insurance and multi-level staff review - all of which was happening on paper or over email previously. And the City was able to set up and deploy this workflow without external or internal IT consultants. The Finance staff who managed the contracting process set it up themselves over the course of a few weeks, with some help from a summer intern and feedback from their colleagues on their many "test runs."
The team took Contreras' advice to not try and directly duplicate the previous paper process; instead, the group took time to analyze how bringing the contract tracking workflow online created opportunities for increase efficiency (like simultaneous review). One important improvement that is part of all ClearForms workflows is a completeness check for each "step" of the process. That meant that the Finance team had to spend much less time requesting missing information from contract requestors.
Bringing the contract process online has has positive impacts in time saved and improved communication between the contract team and department staff. The digital contract tracking project was recently featured in a report on Smart Cities from the American Planning Association.
To learn more about how West Hollywood uses ClearForms to track contracts, please book time with our team for a demonstration of ClearForms software.