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Collaborative Purchasing Portal

Lisbon City Council is one of the 10 largest public purchasers in Portugal. The relevance of public procurement in the municipal activity led to the development of an internal portal - the Collaborative Purchasing Portal - to bring together all those who work in this area. With this Portal, the Lisbon City Council intends to foster an environment of trust, knowledge and sharing, and to strengthen the mission of its workers and the ties that unite them in a digital environment.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The idea of a collaborative procurement portal was born right after the 1st confinement of March 2020, as this unexpected event exacerbated some of the weaknesses identified previously, such as a fragmented information system or the very inexistence of a single communication channel in the department responsible for public procurement. In this moment of uncertainty and in an attempt to humanise the team's remote work, the idea arose to take advantage of Microsoft's Sharepoint and create a common information, communication, collaboration and empowerment portal. Subsequently, the potential of this portal led to discussions of enlarging it across the whole Lisbon Municipality.

For Lisbon City Council's public procurement to respond to the diversity and complexity of the municipality's needs, it has to be agile, without neglecting the legal requirements and other complementary requirements, such as sustainability criteria. It is in this context that the Collaborative Purchasing Portal is intended to be an innovative instrument for sharing knowledge, as it centralises all the means and resources.

Among many others, we can find legal diplomas, related documentation checklists and standard models, connections to the main public procurement platforms, as well as the daily publication of new news and training actions. In the context of training actions, this Portal has been used to encourage employees to invest in the development of their skills, from public procurement to related areas such as sustainability, innovation, circularity and digital transition. In addition, the participatory process used for the construction of the prototype proved to be decisive in defining the functionalities and areas of knowledge to be included in the Portal. During this process, workers representing the various stakeholders in public procurement were interviewed. Usability tests were later carried out in order to improve the Portal's usability and intuitive navigability.

We highlight five objectives of this Collaborative Purchasing Portal:

  1. To enhance an environment of trust, knowledge and sharing.
  2. Centralise knowledge on a subject vital to our organisation, such as public procurement.
  3. Encourage personal and professional development, disseminating content in the form of news (particularly those related to training actions on public procurement and related current issues such as sustainability, innovation, circularity and digital transition).
  4. Strengthen the ties that bind managers, lawyers, contract managers, interlocutors, among many others who participate in the procurement function. Fostering a sense of belonging with greater autonomy.
  5. Offer new workers of the "procurement function" a space for their reception (on boarding) that gives them a feeling of belonging in a short period of time.

The Collaborative Purchasing Portal has benefited all the managers, jurists, contract managers, interlocutors, among many others who participate in the purchasing function and, ultimately, the dynamics of Lisbon City Council itself.

In this Portal, three key features stand out: flexibility, scalability and autonomy. Since it was launched on 16 May 2022, flexibility, one of the features of the application, has already allowed the inclusion of additional pages to the Portal, such as the implementation of ISO 20400 - sustainable procurement, developed autonomously by the team itself. It has also allowed reformulating the presentation of some contents, making navigation more appealing and intuitive. In turn, the scalability will allow other core areas of the municipality's activity, such as finance and human resources, to have their own portals and, in the medium term, the Collaborative Purchasing Portal itself will allow accommodating the dynamics of a new organizational model for municipal purchasing: the future municipal purchasing network. Autonomy was acquired from the moment it was decided that the development of the Portal would mostly use native Microsoft Sharepoint, which means that the aforementioned changes have already been made by the portal's content managers, without external support.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

The Collaborative Purchasing Portal is innovative because:

  1. It involved workers in the co-creation of the prototype and in usability testing, enabling easy and intuitive navigation, both in pc and in its use via app in mobile or tablet.
  2. It exploits, at no additional cost, the applications included in the licence that the Municipality of lisbon has signed with Microsoft.
  3. Centralises, standardises and shares knowledge on a matter that is vital for the organisation, as it is one of the 10 largest national public purchasers and has an influential role in the supply chain of its suppliers, mainly with regard to the pursuit of climate action and sustainable development goals.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

Hi-Interactive - Ux/UI Design from an internal participative process.
DevScope - Development of the global structure of the site in Microsoft Sharepoint and training of content managers.
Procurement Department of the Municipal Directorate of Finance of the Municipality of lisbon:

  1. Project management;
  2. Involvement of employees in prototyping and usability tests;
  3. Dissemination of the project's usability tests;
  4. Dissemination to other services.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

Direct users/beneficiaries are all employees of the City Council of Lisbon who work, regularly or occasionally, with public procurement in the organisation, managers, jurists, contract managers, interlocutors, among many others who participate in the "procurement function". Through the implementation of ISO 20400 sustainable procurement, the knowledge repository Portal, benefit all citizens, organisations and companies.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

Since the Portal was launched internally on 16 May 2022, daily exclusive accesses have been increasing, monitored using native SharePoint metrics. Other available monitoring are the average time spent and on  content. The results allow conclusion that browsing the Portal already includes regular consultation of central documentation for public procurement, as well as the daily viewing of the news published. At present, the legal diplomas and drafts used in public procurement are still available and mirrored on the organisation's corporate intranet. In the short term, these legal diplomas on this intranet will be replaced by the link to the Portal, which will gradually make the Portal the exclusive meeting point for public procurement in Lisbon City Hall.

Challenges and Failures

The main challenge was to manage the development of the Portal from the prototype onwards. Not everything that was initially planned was feasible using exclusively the native resources of Sharepoint, without custom developments. Another challenge was the gradual growth of the digital  skills of project managers, which was initially perceived like a huge and complex challenge (nobody in the team having ever worked with SharePoint) but ultimately ended up being demystified during its execution. Finally, it is worth highlighting the challenge of demonstrating to our internal IT services that the project was viable and feasible, even if not managed by people with specific IT skills.

Conditions for Success

The success of such an innovation depends first and foremost on the creative freedom given to and their teams, and the encouragement they are constantly given to devise solutions to new and old challenges. It also depends on the interest in listening to all proposed innovations and putting into practice those that demonstrate viability and alignment with the strategic options of the organisation. The flexibility and adaptability of the workers involved in the face of hitherto unknown technologies and the methodology used (Scrum) proved to be paramount.


In the short term, we plan to recreate the Collaborative Purchasing portal for two central units in our organisation, such as finance and human resources. The base structure of the Collaborative Procurement Portal will be recreated to host the contents of these two areas. The team that developed the initial portal is already working with the partners from these two areas.

After the training provided by the company that assisted the development, we became almost fully autonomous in the handling, updating of contents and structure of the Portal, which allows us to accompany and support the new recreation projects from the definition of contents to the development itself in SharePoint.

It only does not become 100% autonomous when and if there are any other functionalities that result from future decisions, namely about the Purchasing Network and which require specialised technical knowledge.

Lessons Learned

The experience in this project has taught that nothing is as daunting and complex as it may seem initially, even without a solid knowledge of information technology. In reality, the ability of the team to work autonomously and, at the same time, the responsibility and commitment shown in delivering the results at the various stages of development made it possible to launch the Collaborative Purchasing Portal on the date initially set.

Year: 2022


Level of Government: Local government


  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

Innovation provided by:

Date Published:

30 May 2023

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