By Anda Upchurch, Senior Buyer with Grand Prairie, TX
As a public procurement professional, it can be challenging to ensure compliance while also providing a great experience for end users. Processes designed to safeguard public funds can often feel slow, confusing, and overly bureaucratic to our colleagues outside of procurement. This tension came into focus around P-Card purchasing at the City of Grand Prairie. By training our end users on the basics of cooperative procurement and leveraging Pavilion as a free resource, we’ve simplified our P-card purchasing process, delivered a higher level of service to our end users, and continued to meet our compliance requirements.
We had a problem: end users across Grand Prairie using P-Cards would frequently exceed the city’s purchasing threshold with a single supplier. Above that dollar threshold, we cannot legally continue purchasing from that supplier until a competitively solicited contract with the supplier is in place. Cutting off the end user from making additional purchases while our team scrambles to find a cooperative contract or run a new competitive bidding process to meet our compliance requirement is a frustrating experience for everyone.
Our initial solution to preventing end users from going over the purchasing threshold on P-Cards was to capture cooperative contract information on monthly expense reports. We invested hours setting up a database of cooperative contracts so our team and our end users could all see vendors on active cooperative contracts. It took hours each quarter to update and audit this data. The database was ultimately hard to use, required a ton of time to set up and manage, and still didn’t always return the expected search results.
When I discovered Pavilion, a light bulb went off: we could use their tool instead of creating our own database of cooperative contracts. Pavilion makes it easy to find suppliers available on cooperative contracts from national purchasing cooperatives, states, and local agencies. As a next step, we trained our end users on the basics of cooperative procurement and how to use Pavilion. Together with the Pavilion team, we designed and launched a series of webinars for our agency’s end users.
Today, our purchasing team no longer spends hours wrangling manual data or going back and forth with end users to explain what is and is not possible. We’ve empowered our end users to make small dollar purchases without fear of dramatic interruption, while ensuring our purchasing is compliant.
Getting started with Pavilion is easy. There is no implementation needed - you can simply start searching today.