The city of Houston is home to a vibrant economy, beautiful surroundings, and a population full of optimism and spirit, so it’s no wonder the city is one of the dynamic frontiers on the world stage. With its proximity to the Southern Hemisphere and having the infrastructure to accommodate the growing needs of numerous global interests, Houston has become an international destination and one of the world’s great cities.
In this case study, Velma Laws, Director of Affirmative Action and Contract Compliance for the City of Houston, details her struggles of manually managing data while tasked with simultaneously monitoring, tracking, and reporting on a variety of local programs. In order to overcome these challenges, Laws and her team ultimately implemented B2Gnow Diversity Management Software in order to streamline and automate data-gathering, tracking, reporting, vendor management, and administrative processes of their Supplier Diversity program.
Grappling with Multisystem Chaos and Time-Consuming Manual Processes
Velma Laws, Director of Affirmative Action and Contract Compliance for the city of Houston, has to deal with an overwhelming array of data. She is responsible for ensuring contractor certification, compliance, minority and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) participation and payments for hundreds of contracts in the sprawling Texas city. That never was an easy task and was complicated by the previous method of data collection and analysis.
“We had four separate systems that we used to collect data, such as tracking status of certification applications, producing a printed directory and monitoring MBE participation,” Laws said. “Not only that, but our prime contractors had to submit hard copies that we had to manually enter every month. In fact, everything had to be manually entered.”
Then there were other staggering costs. Laws’ office had to print 800 directories a month for all city departments and prime contractors that needed the information, plus more printing of letters to contractors on subjects such as certification, compliance or payments to MWBEs – all performed manually.
To make matters worse, Houston’s last disparity report was completed in 1994 and Laws knew it had to be updated – another cost issue.
Houston We’ve Corrected a Problem – Finding a Better Way with B2GNow Diversity Management Software
In 2004, Laws decided there had to be a better way to bring the data, reports, contractor contacts, and notifications under control. She switched to B2Gnow, the nation’s leading diversity management software, and results were immediate. Laws said that the system eliminated a significant amount of manual entry and saved the city “thousands and thousands of dollars.”
The program contains all the contact information for prime contractors and MWBE vendors. Any data that a prime contractor input becomes part of the system, and because it is web-based, it is accessible to appropriate personnel such as other city departments concerned about specific contracts.
Another function that Laws consider time and cost-saving is its capability of sending fax and e-mail notifications about payments to contractors. All information is then routed automatically to the directories. For MWBE certification, the software follows the status of each application.
“It gives us a myriad of reports about certification, demographics, our MWBE database, and which companies aren’t reporting,” Laws said. “It’s excellent in terms of our monitoring efforts. ”That is especially important because the city must oversee more than 600 contracts and the system clearly pinpoints who needs additional attention. As for notifications to those companies that may be out of compliance, the days of manually sent individual letters are over. Instead, the system is programmed to notify contractors and vendors in groups whether the issue involves payments, failure to report or falling short of contract goals.
“It saves us a great deal of money because it generates thousands of faxes and emails,” Laws said. “If we were to match that annually, it would require a great deal of human resources and postage costs.” For data-besieged compliance officers, Laws offers this advice: “Carefully analyze what your data gathering and reporting needs are and put those into your specifications because a well-crafted RFP or RFQ is the only way you’ll have a system designed to meet your needs.”
Ready to reclaim your time and ditch your multisystem chaos and time-consuming manual processes?
Let us take you on a tour of B2Gnow Diversity Management Software – a robust, cost-effective solution that streamlines and automates data-gathering, tracking, reporting, vendor management, and administrative processes, resulting in a significant reduction in staff time and cost – allowing you to focus on meeting diversity goals, not on chasing paper. Learn more about B2Gnow and request a demo.