• $4M

    Saved through digital procurement initiatives
  • 80%

    Contracts completed in under 2 days
  • Weeks to days turnaround time for vendor agreements

When Rick Gay signed on as director of procurement at Spring Branch Independent School District, he brought a lot of experience, a lot of passion and an ambitious vision to create the most efficient procurement operations in the K-12 world. There was one obstacle to take on first: paper-driven contracting processes that led to poor visibility, maverick spending and slow turnaround times.

Located in the greater Houston area, Spring Branch ISD has 35,000 students, 46 campuses and solicits over 400 RFPs every year. “My team handles everything from cafeteria food to construction, renovations, electricity and curriculum materials,” said Gay. Getting the goods and services the school district needs on time and within budget is critical.

By moving from a paper-intensive procurement system to a digital-first one, Spring Branch ISD is saving millions of dollars and accelerating time to delivery while empowering the procurement team to take a more strategic role within the organization.

Lightening the administrative load for vendors and district staff with eSignature

One of the first transformation projects Gay and his team took on was implementing an eBid system, providing a simpler, electronic way to manage vendor registrations, proposals and master service agreements. They integrated Docusign eSignature into the process for the final step: execution. “Anyone who’s used to working with vendors knows how difficult it can be to get a signed document back in a timely manner,” said Brandi Pittman, contract specialist. By replacing multiple manual steps with a streamlined digital workflow, the procurement team slashed time-to-signature from days (or weeks) to less than 48 hours. 

Automated reminders help expedite the process, Pittman said—and the transparency has been especially valuable. “I get a notification every time a vendor opens an email link and signs the document, which helps me stay on top of the contracting process.” 

Vendors are happy, too. In addition to lightening their administrative load, the Docusign way gives them peace of mind that what they’re signing is official and secure. “It didn’t take long for the positive feedback to start coming in,” Pittman added. 

Internally, the team gained greater efficiencies by using eSignature to templatize commonly used documents, such as renewal letters and vendor questionnaires, and send them to multiple signers at once via Bulk Send—a feature Pittman said have been a “big time saver.”

Paving the way for fully digital procurement with CLM

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing school closures and an abrupt shift to remote work, there was a silver lining amidst the chaos: Gay was finally able to convince executive stakeholders that all purchasing contracts should go through the procurement team. “I’d been pushing for that since I got here, but COVID was the driving force to help us get senior leadership on board,” he said. There were many advantages to a centralized approach: 

  1. It would eliminate maverick spend and reduce compliance risks.
  2. The superintendent, principals and other school leaders could focus on what they do best: creating successful schools.
  3. Procurement experts could use their skills to negotiate favorable contract terms and pricing.

Elevating procurement to a more strategic role in the organization also paved the way for other transformative initiatives, including automated contract lifecycle management. For Gay, Docusign CLM was a necessary next step, especially during COVID times when trying to stay on top of back-and-forth contract negotiations over email became increasingly challenging. 

“Now, we’re all working from the same document and have a central location for tracking where every agreement is, where it’s going next and what changes have been made,” said Gay. What used to require weeks of meetings and emails now happens digitally—“and in 24 to 48 hours, we’ve got a signed contract.” The system keeps tracking the contract long after it’s signed, notifying Gay and team about upcoming renewals and other key events. 

Docusign CLM’s ability to dynamically generate contracts from standardized templates, including MSAs, data-sharing agreements and work orders, was a game-changing benefit for the procurement team. “We don't have to worry about people using an older version of a contract,” said Gay. “Everything’s up to date and has been vetted by legal services.” And, as a side benefit, the branded templates make the contracts look more professional.”

Growing with Docusign

Over 1,200 vendor agreements have been managed through Docusign within the first three months of the district’s new fiscal year alone. And Spring Branch ISD’s use of Docusign will only continue to grow, according to Gay. “Our standard operating procedure now is that if it needs a signature of any kind, it goes through Docusign,” he said. 

Docusign is an all-in-one encompassing platform that’s allowed us to really grab ahold of our contracting process.
Rick Gay
Director of Procurement Services
Spring Branch ISD