1.24.2023 by Kelly Cripps, Mel Bowling, Matt Briscoe

CAPPO 2023: Governments Benefit from Increased Focus on Collaboration and Supplier Relationships in the New Year


The 2023 CAPPO Conference in Monterey, CA was a great opportunity for Varis to connect with California’s public procurement professionals. We were privileged to listen to this year’s attendees as they shared stories about the many challenges and successes they encountered in the past year. Throughout these discussions, many organizations reported similar struggles as they braved the ups and downs of 2022.

Heading into a new year, the pandemic continues to cause disruptions to supply chains, increase turnover rates, and decrease collaboration among departments. Inflation and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events have further strained budgets as organizations struggle to acquire and maintain adequate emergency supplies in the face of supply chain disruption, inflation, and a changing climate. These widespread challenges were familiar topics of concern for this year’s CAPPO attendees. Governments are looking for new ways to build supply chain resilience, manage employee turnover, and improve efficiency in the face of these ongoing disruptions.

Expanding Supplier and Vendor Relationships

Suppliers and vendors that aspire to be seen as thought leaders are working hard to identify new ways to build trust and provide consistent value for customers. Agencies that nurture these relationships can gain insight into supplier best practices, industry trends, and valuable vendor expertise. These exchanges can also lead to greater cross-collaboration between public and private sector organizations. However, many organizations struggle to find the time and resources needed to grow these relationships further.

To address concerns around staffing and budget challenges, governments often leverage GPOs (Group Purchasing Organizations) as a traditional way of doing more with less. New technology companies are also providing services that allow governments to do more with less, but governments are often risk-averse and slow to adopt new technology. Despite this risk aversion, agencies are seeking out the latest trends in technology and procurement strategies to stay competitive and make informed purchasing decisions.

It certainly feels as though we’ve reached an inflection point.

Change and Growth

Change can be a formidable task for any organization, but it can be especially daunting in the public sector where various federal, state, and local regulations make the process of selecting new technology more complicated. Another common barrier described by this year’s CAPPO attendees was the tendency to fall into the traditional mindset of “this is the way things are always done”, wherein buyers will often default to the quickest or most familiar supplier out of habit instead of seeking the most budget-friendly option. (Sound familiar?) This can increase budget strain, making it harder for your agency to adopt new technology, hire personnel, keep up on expiring contracts, and develop effective RFPs (Requests for Proposal). In addition, many government agencies are reluctant to upgrade technology due to concerns about long implementation timelines and the resources needed to train employees on the technology.

To address these pain points, an ideal technological solution will need to:

  • Simplify collaboration between government agencies and suppliers
  • Have a low cost
  • Be implemented quickly with a low technology footprint
  • Require minimal staff training
  • Significantly increase on-contract spend and reduce off-contract spend
  • Provide ordering compliance with automated controls and approval workflows for increased consistency
  • Include data reporting options
  • Increase collaboration and visibility
  • Be easy to use

When you provide buyers with a convenient and easy-to-use procurement platform, they’re more inclined to continue using it. This reduces off-contract spend by encouraging buyers to place all orders in an environment where you control what your buyers see and when they see it. Reporting tools also provide a wealth of data that empowers agencies to improve purchasing habits in the future.

Bridging the Gap

Government agencies from California and beyond have much to gain from the increased consistency and cost savings associated with a technology upgrade. A quality technological solution like Varis would bridge the gap between you and your suppliers while equipping you with the tools to withstand whatever 2023 has in store.