The Purchasing Division within the General Services Department is responsible for roughly $650 million worth of transactions every year. Behind each of those transactions is a whole team of buyers that work diligently to help agencies obtain the resources they need to be successful. This can be anything from large technology solutions, parking meters, printing supplies, safety gear, and everything in between. These purchases require both a lot of moving parts and clear communication between the buyers and agency representatives.

The buyer team realized that often there was a lot of back and forth with agencies to get information they needed, which wasted time and delayed getting goods into the hands of the people who needed them. In the spirit of blaming the process and not the people, the buyers looked internally to see what about their processes were not enabling agency contacts to successfully provide complete information the first time. In partnership with Peak, the team identified a lack of training as the culprit and wanted to find better ways to equip their agency contacts with all the tools to be successful.

One of a handful of innovations that came out of this work was the development of office hours. Buyers Maggie Bakers and Paige Cheney took the lead, and they created quarterly office hour sessions. In these sessions, buyers educate agencies on a specific topic that is a frequent challenge and provide an opportunity for their customers to ask questions. Not only does it serve as an information-sharing session, but it also helps deepen relationships between the agencies and the buyers. In addition to the regularly scheduled topic sessions, the buyers are also going into their assigned agencies and setting up open office hours on-site. Without any pre-specified topics, this gives their agency customers a chance to connect with their buyers around their unique needs.   

Maggie and Paige’s innovation is valuable because it strengthens the relationships between buyers and agency representatives, empowers agencies, and saves both buyers and agencies time. All of this enables buyers to promptly get supplies into the hands of the people who need them to keep the City running.

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