Putting Agile Procurement into Practice

The Challenge

The State of Connecticut (CT) had a vision — they wanted to avoid wasting constituents’ time and money on things like filling out redundant forms to start a business. But the State’s Department of Administrative Services needed help navigating the path to realize that vision.

When most states want to improve public services, they hire a vendor using an outdated procurement process to purchase a new technology or product. The standard procurement process is cumbersome for government agencies and prescriptive for potential vendors. It also often fails to deliver the desired results.

Recognizing this, CT decided to apply agile methods to create a more effective procurement process — one that would quickly deliver value to CT residents and businesses.

The Project

CT previously engaged Bloom Works on a multi-phased project to improve and transform their digital services. Part of this work included creating a roadmap that aligned CT’s larger goals with strategies and operational processes. One of the key focus areas for the roadmap was agile procurement — a more effective approach to buying and implementing modern technology.

Bloom worked with CT to reinvision how they procure software. Rather than issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) that prescribes how the technology should be built, the team structured the procurement around a problem to be solved. Together, we developed an “agile playbook” to capture the many facets of agile procurement that the state would need to implement. We then worked with the state to put the playbook into practice through the procurement of a complex platform that would allow businesses to interact with the state in a single portal.

The Result

The resulting procurement process described the challenge from the perspective of the end users (business owners in this particular case) rather than focusing on system requirements.

During the evaluation phase, the state now invites selected vendors to provide a demo and show, rather than tell, why they’re qualified. This process of narrowing the funnel lowers business development costs for vendors who don’t make it through the earlier phases and significantly decreases the overall procurement time.

The improved procurement process allows CT to create more straightforward solicitations and receive more creative solutions from the most qualified vendors.

The new streamlined business portal is a key piece of the governor’s mission to reduce the number of business forms filed yearly by 90,000 and cut the number of forms businesses need to fill out from 7 to 1. The site also garnered attention from StateScoop and Patch.

We’ve launched our first digital government procurement and it was a problem-based approach, which said ‘here’s ten pages, not 200, tell me how you’re going to help us solve this problem,’”
Chief Information Officer Mark Raymond to StateScoop

Related Work

Improving Interactions Between the City of Philadelphia and Its Constituents

City of Philadelphia
Finding solutions that enable businesses and citizens to work more seamlessly with city government

Using Technology to Improve the Lives of Young Children and Families

Connecticut Office of Early Childhood
Overhauling a website for an organization that impacts more than 200,000 kids

Helping Connecticut Transform Digital Services

The State of Connecticut
Creating a roadmap to help Connecticut serve their constituents more efficiently and effectively

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