Agencies and organizations across the country use a different mix of platforms and processes to facilitate their bidding operations. With budgets for federal construction projects often totaling in the millions, construction project bidding is an area with high stakes and an even higher level of oversight. By combining common-sense best practices with a bidding platform that includes the necessary features, agencies can reduce risk, ensure compliance, and streamline their existing bidding process. While many of these tips are just as beneficial to vendors, agencies typically control the bidding platform, so it ultimately will fall on the agency to take action in these areas.
1. Seek Opportunities to Eliminate Paper Waste
Paper is bad - for the environment, for record-keeping, and for your process. Some agencies are required to store project data for a minimum of seven years. Organizing and storing that data in a paper form often requires renting storage space and paying personnel just to keep accurate records. When an audit rolls around, producing the necessary documentation can put a halt to daily operations as you scramble to find the right records. By implementing an electronic system that stores project information in a searchable format, organizations can eliminate the physical and administrative costs associated with paper.
2. Have a System in Place for Error and Omission Checking
One of the most frustrating occurrences for agencies and vendors alike is when a low bid gets rejected due to a minor error or omission. Unfortunately, lengthy bid packets and last-minute updates make those errors all too likely. The first step to minimizing discarded bids is implementing a system to thoroughly check for errors and omissions before submission. Many online platforms will do this automatically when the letting is setup using a form builder. Though implementing a system like this may incur costs to the agency, the return on investment is evident in the reduction of both discarded bids and the probability of a bid protest from the vendors.
3. Implement a Notification System for Addendums
Similar to the above practice, having a notification system in place to alert vendors of addendums and changes is essential to eliminating discarded low bids. Vendors are required to acknowledge addendums in order to be responsive and considered for award. In the paper world, this is incredibly difficult to track, especially when it involves physically mailing an updated bid packet to vendors. An online notification log helps agencies track vendor communications and ensures vendors understand the scope of work and updates in real-time.
4. Use Forms to Easily Tabulate Data for Comparison
Online bidding platforms that include features like notifications and omission alerts usually boast some type of form building tool. Forms allow agencies to structure the information they’re receiving in a way that allows for easy analysis after the letting closes. Many platforms will quickly tabulate everything from item cost to labor estimations to give agencies a snapshot view when reviewing bids. This analysis helps agencies and their consultants identify unbalanced bids and areas of work with a high risk for change order; valuable information to have before beginning construction. Doing this manually leads to errors, and can result in agencies overpaying or underpaying for work - which snowballs into a host of other issues.
5. Eliminate as Many Unknown Factors As Possible
Online bidding platforms just need one thing to function - a working internet connection. Well, and a computer, so technically that’s two things. The ability to securely submit a bid response from the comfort of your office is one of the greatest advantages of an online bidding platform, especially in an industry where last-minute adjustments are all too common. How many horror stories have you heard of someone failing to submit a bid on time due to factors out of their control, whether it be the weather, traffic, etc.? Don’t be that agency.
As an Account Manager at Infotech, I work with agencies across the country that use online bidding platforms to elevate their solicitation process. I’ve seen folks describe going from paper to e-bidding like going from a horse-and-buggy to a rocketship. Secure online bidding can have a massive positive impact to your organization’s bottom line. We at Infotech should now - we created the first online bidding platform for the highway construction industry over 20 years ago. Learn more about elevating your solicitation process here or feel free to contact me at email@example.com.