In a comment article on the Building website, RICS E-tendering champion defends underused system, Peter Sell, chairman of the RICS E-tendering working party, responds to assertions that the RICS should not have ventured into the electronic tendering market (see my recent post RICSe-tendering.com hardly used – not ‘baffling’ – I also commented on the original Building article). I have again responded to some of the points made.
I am not sure there was a “backdrop of apathy, naivety and confusion” when the RICS produced its report – at least not everywhere. Among several software development businesses, for example, there was a clear business opportunity and a strong sense of purpose that drove them to develop e-tendering solutions.
Foremost among these companies were vendors active in the construction collaboration technology space whose platforms were already becoming increasingly widely used for drawing, document and workflow management. While such platforms may not be suitable for every project – particularly schemes of low capital value, short duration and with small teams – they do offer an immediate benefit as a location for e-tendering insofar as existing project documentation will already be held on the system and can be quickly incorporated into the tender issue and management processes.
Moreover, such integrated e-tendering systems do more than simply “passing documents between parties”. Relevant documents, drawings, spreadsheets, photographs, etc can be associated with a particular tender package and systems such as BIW’s also securely manage all queries and addendums, and provide a complete audit trail of all user interactions.
Clients quickly identify the benefits of using an integrated e-tendering system as the costs of traditional tendering processes are dramatically reduced, and tenderers and tenderees do not have to pay to access the online system as, typically, vendors charge clients (directly or indirectly) for their systems on a per-project basis (not “on a by tender basis”).
There is perhaps a place for the RICS to provide a system for those projects where sophisticated construction collaboration platforms are not deployed (and any secure electronic system has to be better than reliance on distributing and/or printing out hundreds of sheets of paper), but, where they are in use, it is naive to expect teams to switch to a separate stand-alone system and thus destroy the completeness of the project record that is enabled by such systems.