Almost exactly two years after it published its own guidance note on electronic tendering (see my critique), the RICS has launched its own online tendering solution, imaginatively branded ricsetendering.com, with full-page advertisements in UK trade journal Building and banner ads on Building‘s website this month.
The solution is run on the OGC framework platform provided by BravoSolution (part of Italcementi), and is managed by Building Cost Information Service – a commercial arm of RICS. The OGC link will obviously appeal to many public sector organizations, and to those dealing extensively with the public sector, while the RICS endorsement will obviously count for a lot among some QSs.
To use RICS eTendering for tendering purposes, you need to register as a buyer, and the service is based on a pay-per-tender basis at a cost of £500 per tender (plus VAT). Training is available – in-house training is provided at £900 per day, though there’s a special offer of a full day’s free training, worth £900, until 31 December 2007; workshop courses are also available priced at £300 per delegate.
Clearly, the RICS now feels that it can overlook some of the shortcomings it originally identified with web-based e-tendering systems, such as high mobilisation costs and technology upgrade requirements (or, more likely, the counter-arguments I made back then proved correct).
This development immediately puts the RICS in direct competition with a number of established systems, including some run by established vendors of construction collaboration technologies (formerly known as ‘project extranets’), including 4Projects, Asite, BIW [my employer] and Sarcophagus – who, in May 2006, announced their own system’s compliance with the RICS guidance (see posts).
These offer one major advantage: integration. From what I can read on the RICS site, RICSetendering.com is not integrated with other project information exchanges; documents and drawings therefore need to be copied from one system to another to populate the tendering process. By contrast, BIW: Tender Manager, for example, allows teams to use the BIW collaboration platform to develop tender documentation which, once the tender process is instigated, is seamlessly, securely and confidentially accessed by potential bidders. Moreover, given the extensive take-up of collaboration platforms by many supply chain companies (both buyers and suppliers), the training requirement to use their related e-tendering tools will be much less; this is probably one reason why the RICS is pitching in some free training to get new users up to speed.