Adding bid management to the Bentley ProjectWise suite allows designers to reuse design information for a tender package. Then, after a contract had been awarded, project delivery can resume in ProjectWise.
At Bentley Systems‘ Year in Infrastructure 2017 conference, I learned that Bentley had acquired a mature US-based e-tendering Software-as-a-Service vendor earlier this year. The March acquisition (deal value not disclosed) was announced on the website of Bainbridge Island, Washington state-based eBid Systems in May, and its integration into the growing ProjectWise services portfolio was described by Harry Vitelli yesterday at the first-day Buildings and Campuses press briefing (see also news release; note: eBid Systems should not to be confused with the Surrey, UK-based and eBay-like eBid online auction provider).
eBid Systems was founded by CEO Keith Jones in 1999 (coincidentally, soon after ProjectWise was launched). It provides a hosted procurement solution that includes supplier management, e-sourcing (what many UK industry people would describe as e-tendering), vendor contract management (as distinct from construction contract management – eg: supporting NEC3, FIDIC or other workflows), and public procurement processes.
While it has helped companies streamline their procurement process, for many of its customers, the ProcureWare solution (it rebranded in May 2016, presumably because of confusion with eBid) was also their first experience with externally hosted web application, the company said. The business provides its solution to support tendering processes in construction, education, facilities management, municipalities, natural resources, services, transportation (port organisations, state departments of transport, etc) and utilities. Bentley says eBid Systems provides procurement solutions to “hundreds” of organisations that collectively manage more than 270,000 vendor accounts. Since 1999, the software has processed more than four million bids resulting in US$11 billion in awarded contracts.
In his YII2017 presentation, Vitelli said Projectwise has “grown more in past two years than at any time,” adding that recent acquisitions and extensions were the first phase of a multi-phase development. He placed bid management (as US practitioners describe tendering; covering both bases, Vitelli said it was being described as “bid and tender management”) as a key strategic addition to ProjectWise services, currently spanning design worksharing and BIM review, through construction management (the former EADOC SaaS solution), to work packaging and completions (ie: commissioning and handover).
Later, I talked to Vitelli and Eric Law (formerly CEO of EADOC and now Bentley director of construction product management) about how the eBid Systems platform might expand. Law said:
“The ProcureWare solution helps us achieve our vision for an integrated, end-to-end engineering-procurement-construction lifecycle. With the addition of an integrated procurement solution, Bentley users will be able to execute all phases of a project with a complete project delivery portfolio.”
Vitelli said it filled a gap in the process: it could take documentation from the initial stages of design (managed via ProjectWise), create a tender package and manage the related workflows, and then, after a contract had been awarded, resume support for project delivery in ProjectWise. While the current eBid Systems service was predominantly (c. 95%) used in north America (European customers included NATO, I was told), he said it could be internationalised, and, hosting-wise, would shift from its current provider to Microsoft Azure “eventually”. Bentley believes adding online bidding to a project process could save weeks in the requisition to award cycle for the procurement of contractor services.
Incorporation of a mature bid management application into the ProjectWise suite will help it compete against some of the SaaS collaboration platforms that have already developed tendering workflows (for example, in the UK I’ve looked at Viewpoint for Projects, Asite, and Conject (now Aconex, which has also developed BidConTender – described, by Aconex, as Australia’s biggest tendering network) as well as stand-alone AEC-specific applications (from commercial businesses, eg: the now-defunct Asktobi and Darley eTender, and the RICS, all in the UK, plus Australia’s EstimateOne) and more generic procurement tools such as India’s NexTenders.
[Disclosure: I am a juror at the Bentley Year in Infrastructure Be Inspired Awards; Bentley has paid my hotel and travel expenses to attend the conference.]