As the former PR person for Woking, UK-based SaaS construction collaboration technology vendor BIW Technologies, I had a strong sense of deja vu when I read its latest news release regarding a new enquiry management module. Managing processes relating to an Invitation To Tender (ITT) or a Request for Proposal (RFP) sounded very similar to how BIW Tender Manager – now Tender Control – was described back in 2003. Indeed, I had to call BIW sales director Steve Cooper for clarification that this wasn’t just BIW e-tendering rebadged for a new purpose.
No, it’s a totally new product, he told me. While Tender Control is used in a very formal way to issue drawings and documents to potential bidders, who must login to access and respond, the new application has a much lighter touch for end-users.
For a start, it is very email-focused. Any issued document associated with the ITT or RFP that is under 5MB is automatically attached to the email, while larger documents are accessed via links contained in the email. The ensuing process also uses functionality similar to that used in email marketing; for example, when a recipient opens the email, this action is recorded, as are actions such as opening attachments or clicking through to view links (no login is needed for email recipients to view the target files). The email also includes simple reply links that allow the recipient to say whether or not the company intends to submit a response, giving the issuing manager a quick view of who is likely to bid.
This process also contrasts with ITT/RFP processes that rely on use of printed documents or copying documents to CDs and posting them – which, in BIW’s view, can confuse suppliers, reduce response rates and result in sub-optimal quotes. Using suppliers’ existing email applications also means they don’t have to learn how to use any part of BIW in order to price the job.
As suppliers send queries, responses and related attachments back to the issuer (typically a main contractor), their communications are automatically tracked, sorted and collated in the BIW system, providing an audit trail of what was issued to whom, when they read it and what they are pricing against. Correspondence can also be shared quickly with design or construction teams and quotes compared on a ‘like for like’ basis.