A typical task in the management of a project is administration of the bid process including issuance of all bid documents to the bidders and receiving the bids at a specified time and place. In this era of time saving technology, it is surprising how many owners are still using a manual paper process to distribute bid documents and receive bids. While this process is without a doubt tried and true, it comes at a very high cost: printing paper sets of bid documents, distributing those paper sets, tracking who has documents, issuing addenda, staff time to manage the process are all time consuming and expensive.
Once the bidding period closes, receiving bid submissions is traditionally accomplished with the acceptance of paper bids submitted in a sealed envelope at a specified location. This process creates several issues which include: late bids, non-compliant bids, bidders’ time to drive to the specified location (which contributes to bids being submitted late), the associated greenhouse gases created by this delivery method, and staff time to manage the process.
Today’s technologies provide cost effective and efficient tools to manage the entire bid process in a single application.
Lisa Huber, Executive Assistant with Smith & Anderson Consulting Engineers, says they started using an online bid management system because “One of our biggest clients … were very interested in trying this process and we quickly realized that this would be an extremely useful process for a lot of our other clients, particularly in more remote areas.” Huber says, “The biggest issue [the system] solved for us were late bids, especially in more remote areas where courier dependability is not the best …. I also know that the bids are compliant as the bid management system does not allow them to submit if there is a mistake.”
Change management is one of the biggest hurdles to introducing new administrative processes. “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” is a common position when new procedures are suggested. While it may not be broken, it can definitely be inefficient. On this note Huber reports “The bid management bidding system is way more efficient in that everything is in one place. The ease of uploading documents and getting documents to bidders is definitely a time saver. I can see right away who is downloading documents and it give me a heads up to contractors who may have missed an opportunity and let them know. Issuance of addenda is equally as easy. Also, getting the bid results is definitely a timesaver – one click of the print button and I have my bids and I really like that you can convert the bids to an Excel spreadsheet. This is also very useful.”
Implementation of new technology is often easier than expected. “The transition was very easy. The website is very user friendly as well.” Says Huber.
Of course, buy in from the vendor community is key to the success of such an application. “Once they have used it once, I have had nothing but positive feedback. They don’t have to depend on couriers, fax machines or email in order to send in their bids on time. They can also preview the bid form ahead of time to get their bearings. ” says Huber.