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[Case Study] The City of Grand Rapids Goes Paperless with e-Bidding

September 09, 2021

Challenge: Paper bidding often led to late submissions, time-intensive bid processing, and wasted plan packets for the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Solution: Adopting an online bidding system designed to allow web-based submissions, enable automatic bid report creation, and provide unlimited space for plans and specs

Results: By pairing Bid Express® with an electronic contract submission, the City of Grand Rapids has gone entirely paperless for their bidding process. Bid Express streamlines their bidding process while also saving time and money for the City and its vendors.

Vendor & Agency Cost Savings | Minimizing Late Bids & Errors | Faster Bid Processing

“It’s been a really wonderful system. It saves a ton of time and money for us and our contractors.” Ema Ludge, Engineering Office Administrative Specialist

What issues led the City of Grand Rapids to seek an e-bidding solution?

Ema Ludge, Engineering Office Administrative Specialist, shared the biggest challenges her department faced when they started looking for a digital platform for bidding.

Late Bids

Late bids due to traffic or delayed mail are a common problem for agencies that accept paper bids. For the City of Grand Rapids, this issue was exacerbated by their downtown location. Vendors that couldn’t find parking could have a tough time meeting the 11am submission deadline.

“Finding a place to park near us isn’t always easy. It happened at least twice where we had contractors booking it up the stairs and they would get in just after 11am. That was obviously a big issue.”

Manual Data Entry

Bids entered on paper would then need to be manually entered into Grand Rapids’ bid tabs. This process would often take 4-5 hours thanks to the need to double-check figures or make out illegible handwriting.

“Typically all of our bids were written out in pen by the contractor, and then they had to be manually entered into our bid tabs, so it was a lot of double checking. We have bids with 180 line items, it could take 4-5 hours to run that bid tab.”

Wasted Paper Plan Sets

Contractors in Grand Rapids are required to pick up plan sheets to submit a bid for that project. That meant the bidding team would need to print out at least 10 sets of plan books to have ready for vendors that make the trip downtown to pick up plans. If fewer than 10 vendors came to pick up plans, it meant a large chunk of paper and ink was wasted.

“People would need to come to our office to buy plans. We would typically have 10 sets of planbooks ready to go at any given time. I can’t tell you how much it hurt at the end of a project if they didn’t get bought to toss them all in the recycling bin.”

Communicating Addendums

Sending addendums via email came with a degree of uncertainty as to whether the vendor actually received the notice. This communication challenge can lead to incomplete and discarded bids.

“We would have to email out addendums and there was always that bit of nervousness wondering if they got it or not.”

Read the full case study.


Nate Binder
Digital Marketing Manager
A proud graduate of Florida State University, Nate works with subject matter experts and sales professionals to produce targeted marketing collateral.