Posted on December 18, 2020

Casestudy: A Vendor management portal City of Bellevue

The City of Bellevue, a municipal corporation of the State of Washington, is the fifth-largest city in Washington State, with an estimated population of 145,300 (2019). 

The City of Bellevue is the high-tech and retail center in the Eastside, with more than 150,000 jobs and a downtown skyline with gleaming high-rise. Therefore it is no surprise that the city is a breeding ground for innovative organizations. To continuously offer a well-built place for start-ups and fast-growing organizations, all internal processes must continuously be optimally organized by the City of Bellevue.

As a Municipality, the City of Bellevue works with a wide range and many suppliers. One of the main challenges they encountered was keeping all partners informed so they could work together efficiently. The board was looking for a solution where partners could easily submit their invoices, ask questions, and contact the right people at the organization. 

The city decided to digitize this process entirely and asked fizor. for help. This case study describes how the challenges and frustration turned into building a new vendor management portal.

The Problem

Vendor relations are vital. Whether you are in the public, private, or non-profit sector. However, efficiently managing and maintaining good relations can be challenging. Generally, supplier queries come in by phone and email, consuming valuable time of the staff to collect and provide accurate updates. Timely handling these queries creates work pressure for the staff. However, it is essential for maintaining good relationships. Long waiting times and supplying incomplete information is a challenge for The City of Bellevue. They looked for a partner who could define the project, select the right software/portal, and implement it. 

That is where we stepped in!

The Process

The team of fizor. started with interviews. The information we obtained from these interviews gave us a quantity of data from different stakeholders’ processes, goals, and objectives. Analyzing the wishes and needs that came out of this information led to documenting a collection of user stories validated by The City of Bellevue. 

Utilizing user stories ensures that the requirements are listed and are incorporated into the solution. With this approach developers who build the solution make sure the needs and motivations are included and they still have room for innovation.

The choice for a Vendor Management Portal

The decision was made to build a portal that would suit all of the user stories and processes. To do so, we chose a low code platform due to the necessity for speed, cost, and flexibility. The whole development process of the vendor management portal was based on Agile methodology. In each sprint, we had iteration reviews with the stakeholders, keeping them updated on the development, and at the same time, it allowed them to give feedback. Using this method, we where able to ensure that the solution has met the expectations of all stakeholders within the process.  

After being thoroughly tested, the solution moved to a user acceptance environment. There the functionality was tested and the integrity of the  data verified. With this approach, the first viable version of the portal was delivered in 5 weeks. After this, the remaining part of the process was a collaborative approach to connect and set the portal in the City of Bellevue’s architecture. It resulted in a new solution built by our family member

Step 1: Analysis

Defining the goals , objectives , wishes and needs by in-depth interviews leading to documenting a set op user stories.

Step 2: Requirements

Requirement documents are set up for a right platform selection as well as clear project scopes and budget clearity.

Step 3: Select Platform

Which platform and which supplier is most suited for the challenge ahead. Here we look at all the possibilities.

Step 4: Development

It is time to start building and developing with Agile methodology. When doing this with the right software this fast and exciting.

Step 5: Implementation

Never forget the human factor of it all. Making sure everybody knows what to do and sees what working with the right tools can offer them

Step 6: Innovation

After working with the application the time now not spent on frustrations and quick fixes can be put in innovating and enhancing system and features.

The Outcome

The Vendor Portal streamlines the vendor management process and communication through one single application. Vendors are provided with 24/7 access to their communication portal with the City, making it easy and efficient to access their information. Vendors can directly upload their invoices to the City, check on invoice and payment status, and quickly submit change requests on contact details. I.e., address changes, also banking information can be changed and then automatically enters an approval workflow. Additional functions include vendor FAQ and downloadable content. An efficient way for the City to answer frequently asked questions and provide updates to their vendors in a single flow.

The main purpose of building this portal was not only to reduce time-consuming manual tasks but also to provide copies of documents, invoices, statements, reminders, data updates, etc. The supplier portal automates a lot of supplier management aspects and drastically reduces the workload, saving a great amount of time and effort. 

Building with blocks and code

We have built multiple vendor or supplier management portals and supported multiple companies in requirement analysis for development. This gives us the advantage of having the experience to make the process faster and more thoroughly. Most recent projects are built in a no-code solution. This provides us with the best of both worlds; benefits from standard software, but without all its disadvantages. Due to the pre-coded modular blocks, basics are made “standard”, allowing us to develop the portal fast. This way we can use our time wisely on the more company-specific workflows and processes that need developing. This work process gives us, and the organizations we work for, the benefits of custom software without the negatives. Another advantage of using a low code solution is it keeps your IT landscape simple.

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