Government Procurement Tips for Choosing a Billing and Payment Partner

November 4, 2020

If you think making a purchase decision is difficult, try being in government! Procurement for government agencies is often a slow, complicated process. Purchasing managers are caught having to work with outdated policies, inefficient data management systems, and unclear internal workflows. That’s not all. External factors like an unpredictable economy and changing environmental mandates also add unknowable complexities to the process. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, the curtain has been pulled back to reveal how outdated procurement systems are preventing government agencies from being nimble and making decisions quickly in a crisis.

Pressure continues to mount on government agencies to operate more strategically and efficiently, while minimizing risk. As they look for ways to improve performance, many are looking to procurement processes and solutions to achieve cost targets and obtain products and solutions, while remaining focused on enhancing reliability and security. By ensuring an effective procurement process, government agencies benefit from substantial cost savings, stronger and more productive ties with suppliers, and shared solutions across departments and agencies.

For government purchasing managers looking for a billing and payment supplier, here are a few tips to help make your decision.

Consider the Value for Money Concept

Traditionally, government procurement has focused on cost when making purchasing decisions. This makes sense, you want to be sure you're spending taxpayers’ money wisely. There’s increasing evidence though to show that better outcomes are achieved by using the value for money (VFM) concept. VFM still focuses on cost but also takes quality of the product, long-term savings, and reliability of the supplier into account. That means, when considering a billing and payment solution, you should assess both the value and benefits as well as the cost. Simply choosing the cheapest provider might result in missing out on innovative customer experience management solutions that can benefit both government agencies and their citizens. For instance, providing citizens with easy and convenient ways to pay is key to improving their experience with government agencies, especially when you consider that bill payments are one of the only customer experience touchpoints they have with their local governments.

On top of improving customer experience, purchasing managers should aim to find solutions that will save money long term, like a paperless billing platform. Research has shown e-billing saves an organization 52 cents per bill. That adds up to a savings of approximately $600,000 for every 100,000 customers with paperless adoption.¹ It’s these long-term savings that have made moving citizens to paperless billing the number one priority for many government agencies and departments.

Achieve Closer Supplier Relationships

Selecting the right suppliers to meet your needs is vital to ensuring you are able to deliver your products and services on time, at the right price, and in compliance with your quality standards. When it comes to billing and payment suppliers, reliability is key. Get to know potential suppliers by reviewing their customer profile, asking for customer testimonials and feedback, and well as soliciting case studies. These evaluation tools will reveal the supplier’s credibility, helping you make an informed decision and move projects forward efficiently. It’s also essential to take an indepth look at a potential vendor’s solution suite in order to gain a thorough understanding of its products and services. Unlike many private businesses with specific customer segments, government agencies must serve everyone. Choosing suppliers that offer an omni-channel customer experience is important for government entities wishing to meet the needs of all their citizens. Partnering with suppliers that are known for their customer-centric attitude increases the chances of receiving exceptional customer service. As does taking the time to get to know them and acknowledge the good work they do for you.

Focus on Customer Experience

Historically, customer experience hasn’t been high on the agenda for many government agencies but that’s starting to shift. Citizens have grown accustomed to exceptional experiences from companies like Amazon and are looking to their local governments for the same. Forward-thinking government entities have taken note. They recognize the importance of the citizen experience and are devoting resources to expand digital technologies that will help improve it. In order to build effective digital solutions, you need to pay attention to the citizen journey, identifying user pain points and working to solve them. By taking a human-centred design approach, government agencies can improve CX and reduce citizen complaints, while improving its reputation.² A seamless, omnichannel billing and payment solution must be part of the digital transformation for government groups looking to improve their citizen experience, increase efficiencies, and reduce costs and errors. Start your search by focusing on billing and payment suppliers that have solutions that can elevate the customer experience by expanding the ways citizens receive and pay their bills.

Find Vendors That Put Security First

Security remains a core challenge across the market. According to a 2018 Global Payments Survey conducted by OMDIA, over one in five merchants and billing organizations report that they have suffered a data breach in the previous year. While onboarding new billing and payments suppliers, you and your procurement team should evaluate sources of risk alongside factors like price and availability. You should make compliance a top priority by ensuring prospective suppliers are compliant with all government standards and regulations. It’s also wise to look into the reputation of a supplier, looking for companies that have a reputation for making security a priority in all of their products. When it comes to payment data, security is vital to maintaining the trust of citizens and integrity of the department. In order to protect government agencies and citizens, you should partner with providers that are PCI Level 1 compliant and that encrypt data using tokenization at every point of the payment process. 

Be Picky When Choosing Your Partners

Government procurement teams are tasked with finding value for taxpayers’ money. It’s not easy, which is why many have put customer experience on the backburner for many years. But, when a procurement team focuses on finding reliable partners that can provide innovative and secure solutions, it can deliver both cost-effective products and services that also improve citizens' interactions with their local government. With KUBRA’s extensive suite of customer experience management solutions for government, you can meet both of these objectives and more!

¹ 2020 Chartwell Billing and Payment Report.

² Citizen experience in government takes center stage, Deloitte Insights, 2019.