By Kelly Freel
Many cities, counties, and state agencies have been using or will be implementing electronic bidding software to help streamline their bid process. Electronic bidding has many advantages for agencies and for bidders:
- Time and Stamp. When you log in and view the bid opportunity, it provides a time and date stamp and the username/email address of the person viewing the bid. Why is this important? The contracting officer will know if you reviewed the bid the day it was posted, and they will also know if you waited until the last day to submit your bid response. If you have internet issues on the last day, the agency may not be forgiving knowing that you waited until the last minute to enter your response.
- Consistency. Electronic bidding helps provide a consistent format for each bidder. Agencies can receive multiple bid responses. Having the same format helps the evaluation team review and score each bid rather than having various response styles. This also helps the bidder with content. Answer the questions and only elaborate if necessary.
- Questions and Answers. If you have questions about the bid, you can enter them directly into the bidding software under the Questions tab. Entering your questions ensures that your question(s) are going to the correct contracting officer and that the agency answers are documented and published. Each agency can publish the answers to the bidder asking the question or publish them for all bidders. Note: Bidders can ask for an extension on the due date. The agency will likely not extend the bid if you log in on the last day, especially if they have received multiple offers.
- Required Fields. The electronic bidding software can mark a data field such as cost, acknowledgment of Terms & Conditions, or references as a required data field. The electronic bidding software will not allow you to submit your bid response without answering all required data fields and/or questions. Note: Some fields may be optional and do not require a response.
- Bid Tabulation. When the bid closes, the contracting officer can export a bid tabulation from the electronic bidding software, including the bid number, title, list of bidders, responses to each data field, and pricing.
- Flexibility. The contracting officer can set reminder dates for bidders, issue addendum(s), ask clarification questions after the bid has closed, and post the award, to mention a few.
- Workflow. Bidders using electronic bidding software for bids issued agencies in Iowa will see a lot of commonalities between agencies. The agency logo will be different, but the workflow of the bid will resemble the following:
- Title page Contains the bid number, title and brief descriptions and the following five tabs from left to right.
- Attachments Containing terms and conditions, drawings, Scope of Work for more complex projects.
- Questions Where questions are entered by the bidder and the contracting officer responds with answers
- Attributes Contains acknowledgements, specifications, scope of work, etc.
- Bid Lines Pricing, etc.
- Response Attachments Required attachments. For example, the bid may ask for a turnkey price and require the bidder to attach itemized pricing).
The next time you respond to a bid, remember to open it early, read the content, and ask questions if you have any. The electronic bidding software will allow you to save your information along the way and let you know what remains, so start responding as soon as possible.
Do you need help in registering as a vendor in some of these electronic systems? Work with your PTAC counselor to get set up!