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Public sector software procurement: How to manage the process remotely

March 26, 2021 Article 5 min read
Scott Eiler

Overwhelmed legacy enterprise technology puts your infrastructure and citizens at risk. If you’ve put your software modernization initiative on hold, it's time to pick it back up.

Businessperson using a laptop computer while sitting on concrete steps.Given budget shortfalls and declining revenue streams, it’s no wonder governments remain on their legacy systems. However, obsolete technology prevents you from serving citizens, fulfilling your mission, managing disruption, and it presents significant cybersecurity and privacy risks. If your project funding has been killed altogether, you’ll need to optimize your existing system to make the most of what you have today. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help bridge the gap between your legacy ERP process and modern automation for rule-based processes and labor-intensive repetitive tasks.

Tip: Create efficiencies and enhance your resources with RPA. Watch our on-demand webinar to learn how.

Nevertheless, if you put your software procurement project on hold and you still have the funding, now is the time to revisit your digital strategy so your end-to-end technologies and data reporting meet your citizens’ growing demands, connect agencies, improve transparency and operational efficiency.

Kicking off your legacy system modernization procurement process

Replacing legacy software is no small task. In the early stages of a software procurement initiative, the primary goals are to engage your staff and form a project governance structure. Organizational change management spans beyond project management, it means making collaboration as easy as possible — use collaboration tools such as Microsoft SharePoint to make sure everybody has access to the same information and adheres to strong project management principles to ensure tasks are clear—and staying organized is simple. Since the old structure of working together in the same office has gone out the window, the structure that a detailed project plan provides is even more important. Your staff are likely now very adept in using a variety of virtual collaboration tools, but you’ll also want to establish protocols for using the collaboration tools as consistency will help the project run more smoothly. If you’re working with a consulting firm to accomplish your transformation, they’ll be able to help create a culture of innovation and manage people-related challenges.

Tip: Use these five pillars of success for a smooth and successful ERP implementation.

Since your staff are the ones who will be using the new technology, you’ll need their buy-in to make the implementation successful. Keep them engaged not just with a clear, structured, project plan, but with plenty of communication, knowledge transfer, coaching, and training. Don’t discount the emotional value of face-to-face conversations — videoconferencing tools will help you get your message across with the right tone and add to a sense of camaraderie.

Identify functional and technical needs for successful digital modernization

After the project kickoff meeting, take steps to establish where you are and where you’d like to be. To determine what you need out of your new software to manage day-to-day operations, achieve compliance, security, and organizational agility and efficiency:

  • Collect any existing documentation about your current processes to help your consultants obtain a clear picture of the current technical and business environment.
  • Identify which business staff to interview to understand their current issues and needs for a new solution.
  • Identify which technical staff to interview to understand the current technical environment and associated needs and expectations for a new environment, such as increased accessibility with the cloud, integrated business processes, and an enhanced user experience.

Establish where you are and where you’d like to be.

Interview sessions involve advanced planning and scheduling, completion of questionnaires, review of the collected documentation, and execution of the interviews themselves. We recommend using videoconferencing tools to conduct interviews because you’ll have the ability to communicate with a greater sense of connectedness and support staff calling in from multiple remote locations.

Best practices to streamline the RFP process

To maximize the number of qualified vendors to choose from, significant effort will go into executing the RFP process. All the previous activities will help you capture your needs in an RFP document. First, you and your consulting team will develop a statement of work (SOW) that includes your technical requirements and relevant contract terms and conditions. You’ll then develop the compiled RFP document, have it reviewed and approved by the required person, and post it. Your consultants are also responsible for selecting qualified vendors, managing communication, and assessing their qualifications.

You may already be used to hosting the usual pre-bids virtually. You can also take vendor questions pertaining to the RFP document electronically, with addendum posted. If you’ve never received proposals electronically, make sure your organizational procurement policies allow for that option. Your consulting team should provide a software procurement toolset that integrates with proposal analysis tools that condense large RFP responses into an easily digestible digital format.

Host remote vendor demonstrations

Vendor demonstrations are a critical milestone in the vendor selection process and can be performed completely electronically. Using remote sessions allows for efficient scheduling and expedites your ability to validate vendor capabilities. This presents opportunities for the vendors and staff to think more creatively. For example, you could consider conducting demonstrations for multiple vendors on a particular module (e.g., Accounts Payable) on the same day versus having them spaced out a week at a time which allows for staff to more easily compare what they have seen from multiple vendors. Scoring vendor demonstrations can be done electronically using predefined templates from your consultants. Additional due diligence activities like referencing checking can be done using prescribed questionnaires. Use videoconferencing to optimize your interaction with the reference sites.

Scoring vendor demonstrations can be done electronically using predefined templates.

Once a vendor decision has been made, contract negotiations and Statement of Work (SOW) planning and execution meetings can begin — again, we recommend videoconferencing here to ensure optimal communication. Then, contract documents are sent for review and approval using digital signatures, if allowed. Next step, implementation!

With the right procurement partner change is possible

It’s time to modernize. We’ll help you achieve outcomes that matter, serve constituents faster, reduce budget, enable remote work, protect data, and respond to disruption. Our experts align your business goals and budget with technology and strategy to enable transformation and innovation. The procurement process is the first step in your digital transformation journey. We’ll help you every step of the way, let’s get started.

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