How The City of Palm Springs Streamlined Their Procurement Processes with Docusign eSignature

Procurement and contracting activities can be overwhelming for US city governments tasked with purchasing resources to support a wide-range of operational efforts vital to meeting citizens’ needs.

From acquiring services and solutions for public safety and public works to new hiring and employee management processes, contracts and agreements serve as the foundation for all of these efforts. However, paper-based workflows make it difficult to effectively and rapidly deliver on the mission.

Thankfully, e-signature technology can transform contracting and procurement efforts by eliminating cumbersome paper-based processes that are ineffective and inefficient.

Docusign sat down with Kim Baker, Procurement and Contracting Manager at the City of Palm Springs, to gain her perspective on how Docusign eSignature transformed her procurement operations.

Baker has been a long-time advocate and user of eSignature for all city contracting and procurement solutions, with the goal of providing the best customer service to all departments. 

Below are some highlights and commentary from this discussion.

Deploying new technologies and business processes can sometimes be difficult. What was the approach for getting buy-in?

Baker discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst for relying on eSignature to minimize disruptions in operations, especially as many non-essential employees quickly transitioned to working from home.

“When the pandemic hit, we were one of the departments that was considered essential and was required to stay in City Hall,” said Baker. “I started looking down the road about how to keep the government operation flowing. I went to the IT department and said that ‘the time is now to get an essential platform implemented.’”

From there, she gained quick support from the city’s IT director, who made implementing and using eSignature a top priority.

In addition, it was important for the city clerk and city secretary to have visibility of all contracts in order to maintain records for public transparency. Otherwise, it would not be possible to accurately fulfill citizens’ public records requests.

“A lot of the contracts were routed around the city secretary, and she didn’t know what contracts were being signed,” added Baker. “But with eSignature, she had knowledge of every contract that was being signed and could officially track those records.”

Getting employees to use new technology can be challenging. What was the key to helping employees adopt eSignature?

Once the solution was implemented, getting employees trained to use eSignature was very easy for the City of Palm Springs.

“It literally only took 30 minutes to train us,” said Baker. “And when we all went to work from home, we did not miss a beat because we had it set up. We also quickly put together a set of instruction sheets, and my whole staff adapted to it extremely well.”

This also dispelled the myth that employees are afraid of the change that comes with embracing new innovations.

“At first they were a little afraid, but once they saw how easy it was to use, they realized that there isn’t anything to be afraid of,” said Baker. “It only took one-page of instructions to go in and set up contracts and route them through the system successfully. Now, they don't have to run all over City Hall to get their contracts signed anymore. They can get it done from the comfort of their own seat. Even people who are uncomfortable with technology, after the first one, they got it.”

The solution also allowed Baker and her team to route a high-volume of documents that were required for getting the job done in a virtual environment.

“We were even more efficient than before when we were working in the office because we used the right electronic tools to keep us functioning,” said Baker. “We were also able to decrease the processing time on getting contracts signed.”

There are multiple constituents involved in the end-to-end procurement process. What has been the biggest change you’ve seen to the procurement department’s operations and the employee experience since implementing eSignature?

The City of Palm Springs experienced a significant increase in overall efficiencies by decreasing the time it took to route and manage contracts. The department went from two weeks to a 24-hour turnaround time to get a contract signed.

The solution also allowed the record keeper–whether it was the city clerk or city attorney–to be fully in the loop for every contract that was captured and placed into city records.

In terms of the end-user experience, eSignature was fully embraced by vendors, dispelling the myth that they would not have the technology to support it. Rather than having paper-based contracts that were sometimes illegible and coffee stained, now they could sign wherever they are without using a printer, scanner and fax machine.

“Our vendors have not struggled at all,” said Baker. “It has been very easy for every level of vendor we have, no matter how sophisticated they are with technology. They have not had any trouble signing into the system. All they need is a mobile phone, not a fancy computer and they don’t have to be tech savvy at all.”

Why Docusign for contracting and procurement?

Docusign eSignature makes it easy to efficiently get massive volumes of paperwork signed and routed to the appropriate parties when it comes to government contracting and procurement. It’s simple to use and only requires a minimal amount of time to get employees trained on the solution.

Learn more about Docusign for Government.

Shonte Eldridge
Sr. Director, State and Local Government Strategy