Skip to Content

Municipal procurement teams discuss vendor diversity, vaccine rollout, and Bonfire tips at virtual meet-up

March 5, 2021 | Emily Lambert

Municipal procurement professional joining Bonfire's virtual user meet-up

COVID-19 has undoubtedly exposed just how critical (and difficult) the role of public procurement is. Vaccine sourcing and distribution, vendor diversification initiatives, and supply chain shortages have thrust municipal procurement teams in the spotlight as you navigate these unchartered waters.

As you innovate and adapt to respond to the crisis now and prepare for a post-pandemic future, it’s more important than ever for public procurement professionals like yourself to connect with your peers to learn from their experience. That’s why, here at Bonfire, we hosted our first 2021 virtual user meet-up for municipalities from February 23 to 26. These sessions, spread over the span of four days, brought together procurement professionals from over 40 cities and counties from across North America. Here’s an insider look into what attendees learned. 

Day 1: Procurement in 2021 panel

We kicked off the meetup week with Bonfire’s Chief Client & Product Officer, Omar Salaymeh, speaking to the growth of our municipal client base and the trends we’ve seen across municipalities. We introduced the virtual audience to the over 40 organizations that had registered for sessions—setting the tone for a week full of collaboration and networking across regions.

Map of municipalities using Bonfire
We started our municipal user meet-ups with a look into how Bonfire connects city and county procurement teams across North America


The real show stopper of the day was our Procurement in 2021 panel. Ron Shoram, Business Analyst at Fairfax County, dove into his recommendations for supporting and aligning his county’s 70+ procurement stakeholders. Crystal Vandermeulen, Procurement Analyst at the City of Kamloops, grabbed everyone’s attention by sharing how her team rolled out a vendor performance program. Shawn Garris, Procurement Analyst at the City of New Haven, shared his recommendations for designing and maintaining a vendor diversity initiative. 

Day 2: Peer-led toolkit session

Marla Bossons from the District of North Cowichan kept a captive audience as she dove into her best practices using Bonfire’s intake, projects, and lifecycle modules. She kicked off her session sharing that after 20 years in the finance department, she expanded the scope of her role into procurement 6 years ago and formalized their procurement rollout. Marla highlighted how she uses Bonfire to:

  • Achieve a consistent, defensible, and transparent process throughout the lifecycle of a project
  • Get notifications and reminders so nothing slips through the cracks when it comes to renewals, insurance reminders, rate changes, evaluations, and more
  • Easily access all procurement information in one central location
  • Provide stakeholders with a quick glance at the status of projects

Marla received lots of questions throughout her session and left attendees with plenty of tips and tricks. 

Day 3: Meet the Bonfire product team

Day 3 was all about giving our clients insight into what’s to come in the Bonfire platform. We gave a sneak peek into our upcoming Approvals feature, which is designed to consolidate approvals at every stage of the procurement process in one central place. 

At Bonfire, our product roadmap has always been inspired by our rockstar clients, so we always appreciate an opportunity to get feedback and ideas on how the platform can better serve them. We divided clients into smaller breakout rooms to discuss what they love about being a part of the Bonfire community, and how we can integrate those benefits in the platform. There was a collective feeling that procurement isn’t meant to be done in a silo, and there were lots of ideas on ways clients could learn from their Bonfire peers to improve and streamline their process through the platform.

To end the day, we discussed the challenges that come with tracking vendor diversity, especially given some recent policy changes that have made it even more critical. Teams discussed how they manage these challenges today, and how Bonfire as a partner could improve this very critical step of the process. 

Day 4: Municipality roundtable

This day was entirely dedicated to focused discussions centered on topics most pressing for municipalities in 2021. Topics of discussion that emerged in these breakout rooms included:

  • How Bonfire was able to connect procurement with suppliers amidst nationwide PPE shortages
  • Tracking supplier diversity and ways Bonfire can assist with tracking and reporting
  • Supplying services and products necessary to ramp up vaccine rollout efforts 
  • Using Bonfire alongside an ERP
  • How COVID increased the need for an efficient and effective process, exposing ways old processes and systems weren’t supporting public procurement in the way they needed
  • Transitioning vendors to an online submission platform

Overall, it was a fantastic week full of shared client insight, networking, and a look into municipal procurement in 2021. For a look into upcoming virtual user meet-ups, visit our website!

About the author

Bonfire Blog Author Emily Lambert

Emily Lambert | Bonfire Interactive

As the Content Marketing Strategist at Bonfire, Emily writes thought leadership for procurement teams in the public sector. Best practices content for procurement professionals doesn’t have to be a chore to get through—which is why Emily strives to strike the balance of writing educational yet engaging content that inspires sourcing experts and equips them to make the best purchasing decisions.