West Hollywood, CALos Angeles County
Save time and increase transparency through a digital solution that would allow the city to streamline and speed up their contract approval process by managing contracts online.
The city of West Hollywood’s contracting department was bogged down with a paper contract process. Paper contracts and contract request forms would sit for days or weeks waiting for approval. Meanwhile, departmental, finance, and legal team members would get frustrated tracking down status updates and emailing back and forth. When vendors would ask for the status of contracts, the staff would struggle to quickly find the answer.
Francisco Contreras, AICP, West Hollywood’s innovation manager, has long been a strong advocate for internal digital services for staff (as well as for public-facing digital applications). However, 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 ClearGov to easily create a functional contract tracking system reducing the time the Finance department takes to forward new contracts to the City Attorney by several weeks.
West Hollywood uses ClearGov ClearForms 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.
The software’s step-based workflow makes it easy to see statuses in real time. Both the staffer requesting the new contract and the finance team can see the status of any contract in real time, making it almost impossible for it to get stuck in one of the many review steps. What previously could have taken months is now reliably a 7-10 day process.
In addition, multiple staff can review and approve 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 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 increased efficiency (like simultaneous review). One important improvement is a completeness check for each “step” of the process, meaning the Finance team spent much less time requesting missing information from contract requestors.
Bringing the contract process online has had 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.