The Lisbon City Council improves public contracting with Low-Code

September 6, 2022
Joel Monteiro
  • Client Lisbon City Council
  • Role Portals & Collaboration
  • Year 2022

The client:

The Lisbon City Council (in Portuguese, Câmara Municipal de Lisboa) is the collegiate executive body representing the municipality of Lisbon, whose mission consists of defining and implementing policies that promote the council in different areas. The Lisbon City Council is the largest in the country, employing over 10.000 workers, and its policies impact the daily lives of millions of citizens who live in Lisbon or visit the Portuguese capital.

The challenge:

The Lisbon City Council’s Division of Centralized and Special Contracts (in Portuguese, Divisão de Contratos Centralizados e Especiais) recorded all data from its public contracting activity in various Excel sheets under the responsibility of different category managers. These managers could only access their own sheet, and all necessary documentation pertaining to the underlying contracts was stored on a shared folder on a server. Information was tight, sealed, and hard to access, but, most of all, it was disjointed, preventing the division from having a unified and integrated vision of its activity.

To overcome this hurdle and following a recommendation by the Kaizen Institute, the division unified the data under a single Excel file. This allowed the division to integrate Power BI to read and display its data but created a new problem: with more than 10 users editing a heavy Excel spreadsheet with over 115 columns, data was difficult to handle and very prone to human error. Additionally, each worker kept a backup Excel file, which they updated to counteract expected inaccuracies.

“Constantly updating 14 contracts was exhausting since we were working on a shared Excel file with 115 columns, prone to several underlying errors.”

– Silvia Santiago, Lisbon City Council

With the entirety of the Lisbon City Council working with Microsoft 365, Microsoft suggested that a Power App, a Low-Code development platform included in the bundle, could greatly increase the public contracting process while solving the usability and reliability issues the Division of Centralized and Special Contracts was facing.

The solution:

The public contracting Power App was introduced in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite a few obstacles – namely accessing SAP systems used by the city council and some concerns regarding GDPR – the migration process to our Low-Code solution was a success and the staff quickly adapted to it.

“It was a very quick process. It’s interesting to be able to build such a rich tool in such a short time.”

– Patrícia Bruges e Saavedra, Chief of Division, Lisbon City Council

The contrast to Excel couldn’t be clearer. Competencies are now split according to each department, and while one enters the information needed to generate a new contract, another manages its execution.

Lisbon City Council Low-Code Power App 1

Should an update be required, all it takes is opening the Power App, and everything will be structured accordingly to make each process easy to navigate and update. Information and data are organized and sorted according to process, category, and category manager, which can only edit their processes and read others’, drastically reducing the margin for error.

Lisbon City Council Low-Code Power App 2

The Power App also greatly improved the searching, accessing, and storing of information. The team can now look for a process by introducing one or more parameters in the search box and, unlike an Excel spreadsheet, the Power App allows them to attach documentation to a particular field. Before using the Power App, the team had to manually store the many documents used in the public contracting process in a complex system of folders and files inside a shared folder accessible to everyone on a server and make each document correspond to the info inside some cells in the spreadsheet. The documental organization is now performed automatically, and the corresponding documentation is accessible with a single click from the Power App, removing the need to manually search for it.

“The Power App gives us a macro view of the information. We spotted errors on Excel and ended up not using the data to make decisions fearing the information was not correct and reliable.”

– Patrícia Bruges e Saavedra, Chief of Division, Lisbon City Council


The workers of the Division of Centralized  and Special Contracts at the Lisbon City Council quickly adapted to the public contracting Power App and their activity was instantly changed.

Information is now centralized in a systematic way and it’s easy and quick to access. The interface is user-friendly and appealing, and the ability to associate a process with its corresponding documentation in a structured way allowed users to comfortably consult it. The move to a centralized platform where each user can only edit information pertaining to their own competency also made data more reliable and the City Council can finally leverage it into the decision-making process with the help from Power BI.

“DevScope was always up to the task, even proposing alternatives and presenting ideas and better solutions, taking into account our ultimate goal and the best contractual and financial management for CML.”

– Patrícia Bruges e Saavedra, Chief of Division, Lisbon City Council

The Power App was later integrated into the Lisbon City Council’s Public Procurement SharePoint Online portal, covered in another case study.

What we did:

  • Replaced a huge, shared Excel spreadsheet with a Low-Code solution using Power Apps that’s helping the Lisbon City Council’s Division of Centralized and Special Contracts in their public contracting activity.
  • Centralized all the documentation used in the public purchasing process and made it easily available for consulting.

Technologies Used:

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