Regardless of what’s happening to government budgets, the process of procurement remains an essential and complicated one, and a new gov tech partnership is hoping that better data could make it faster and cheaper. ElectrifAi, a company that makes machine learning-powered products, has developed a tool to simplify procurement by making financial data more concise and intuitive, and it has partnered with the cloud software company CherryRoad Technologies to make the product more readily available to state procurement officers.
ElectrifAi’s business intelligence tool is called ProcurementAi, the latest version of which was released in early April. The company announced in a news release this month that ProcurementAi is now available through a portal owned by the National Association of State Procurement Officials and hosted on the cloud by CherryRoad.
Michael Fox, ElectrifAi’s head of product, said ProcurementAi, unlike most procurement software focused on workflow or contract management, is focused on data-generated insights. The software reads an agency’s purchase orders, invoices, contracts, spreadsheets and other spending data from various sources, then categorizes and presents it in a more condensed, easier-to-read way. He said this includes automatic alerts, so procurement officers can see where their agency is paying more than once for the same service, what they’re paying for but not using, or whether their contracts fit other initiatives, such as prioritizing local sellers or minority-owned businesses.
The idea is to help a procurement officer craft better RFPs and trim the budget with a clearer comparison of what the agency has and what it needs.
“Today, when states have substantial budget challenges, this allows you to look at, how do we reallocate? How do we renegotiate?” Fox said. “With those budgets, you can actually clean all that data automatically with machine learning, present a clean view of all the spending information, and all the contracts related to that spending information … it becomes very simple to understand the impact where, if I just redirect my RFP to local businesses only, as an example, I can change the course of my local economy and local small business. It’s a huge boon to those groups that have that kind of intelligence.”
It’s not only about cutting costs. The bigger picture, he said, is providing government with some agility.
“The area that’s so exciting about this for us is that machine learning lets us do things you couldn’t do before,” he said. “There’s so much height, the challenge is actually helping leaders understand what’s possible with the technology.”