The County of Santa Clara relies on its Silicon Valley roots to help government operations procure goods and services responsibly.

Procurement has a reputation for being the organizational enforcer telling everyone what they can or cannot do. For most local governments, this can be a tight line to follow when constituents are depending on them to provide undisrupted services, reliable infrastructure, and life-enriching surroundings.

The County of Santa Clara is no stranger to this reality. Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, the county government serves the needs of approximately 1.8 million people across 15 cities with an annual budget of US$6.1 billion. This means that only $3,388.88 is allocated for each person living in the sixth-largest county in the state of California.

This economic reality inspired Santa Clara’s procurement team to adopt SAP Ariba solutions to help the government’s 50 agencies purchase goods and services responsibly. “Our hospital, jail, network of county parks, and many more operations depend on us to acquire goods and services that will help them operate efficiently and effectively. At the same time, every taxpayer dollar must be spent wisely,” shared Jenti Vandertuig, chief procurement officer at the County of Santa Clara.

Bringing the Heart and Spirit of Silicon Valley to Government Procurement

With approximately one-third of the annual allocation reserved for acquiring goods and services, the county’s procurement department is always looking for new ways to maintain a balanced budget while meeting the needs of every person. Yet, the function must be mindful of stringent government procurement rules and regulations.

“Our goal is to give every vendor an equal opportunity to work with us through a fair and open process. Plus, we need to deliver the right resources and tools at the right time to help organizations get their job done properly and quickly,” mentioned Vandertuig.

Feeling the pressure of increased demand for accountability and transparency, the procurement team was inspired by its appreciation for technology to begin a transformation focused on people and processes. It chose a suite of SAP Ariba solutions to automate the entire procurement lifecycle in the cloud. This digital strategy is helping the organization drive socially and environmentally responsible procurement practices that are efficient, productive, and compliant.

“We’re constantly looking for more cost-effective means for procurement acquisition, so we can increase efficiency and productivity while serving constituents and businesses better.”

— Jenti Vandertuig

Innovating Procurement Automation in the Cloud

By adopting a cloud-based portfolio of SAP Ariba solutions, the procurement team has eliminated all manual, paper-intensive processes from the acquisition experience. Government employees now access a network of vendors that are compatible with socioeconomic factors such as local preference and green practices. They can also issue electronic purchase orders and consult a catalog of 300 standardized contracts to fulfill operational needs.

“Since it’s a cloud-based solution, the SAP Ariba solutions bring greater agility and efficiency to government services, added Pomi Amjad, IT manager at the County of Santa Clara. “Because we don’t have to worry about maintaining the technology, we can spend more time collaborating with government agencies to add more value to constituent services.”

Consolidating all transactions and contracts on a single cloud platform also makes it easier for vendors to do business with the county government, especially those operating in the County of Santa Clara and impacting key socio-economic factors such as green practices and sustainable operations. At the same time, residents, business owners, administrators, board members, and elected officials can now access all acquisition information with ease.  This additional capability empowers the procurement organization to drive best practices for the delivery of goods and services.

“Transparency in public purchasing is critical to us and our constituents. Because we are using this technology, constituents can see that we are working as efficiently as possible and making the best use of their hard-earned money,” observed Vandertuig.

 “Working with SAP is a win-win situation for us. The technology is advancing our vision for procurement and helping us build public trust.”

— Jenti Vandertuig

Keeping a Balanced Budget Without Sacrificing Constituent Services

The County of Santa Clara is steadily changing how government procurement is done. This approach not only improved buying compliance and optimized spend, but also shortened acquisition approval time for 90% of purchases from four weeks to one business day. Plus, new suppliers are approved 80% faster.

“I think we are ahead of the curve in a massive transformation in the public sector because technology is usually the last thing to be embraced and adopted by governments,” concluded Vandertuig. “With SAP Ariba solutions, we are benefiting from improved compliance and efficiencies, giving us the foundation we need to engage with the county’s agencies as strategic partners and value-add collaborators.”

“With SAP Ariba solutions, our leadership role is transforming. We are engaging with the county’s agencies as partners and collaborators, not paper-pushers.”

— Jenti Vandertuig