In today’s industry, firms must have a robust, streamlined bid management process to remain competitive. This process is critical not only for kickstarting projects but also for uncovering opportunities and increasing profitability. The multiple parts and dependencies behind bid management leave a lot of room for hiccups and bottlenecks, which can, in turn, affect success rates and project outcomes. It may feel like you’re ‘herding cats’ when it comes to bid management. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
For specialty contractors, a connected bid management platform for bid solicitation and management is a must-have to save time, increase quality, and improve collaboration to scale up operations and bid on multiple projects with a high success rate.
With BuildingConnected, specialty contractors can manage, track, maintain, and evaluate projects that they’re bidding on and bidding out. With insight into ongoing operations and the status of bids, subcontractors have visibility into bidding to drive more successful outcomes.
We spoke to preconstruction and bid management experts, Sarah Emich, Director Of Preconstruction at the Houston Division at Walker Engineering, and Mary Goeckner, Estimator at McKinstry, LLC, Inc. about the benefits of using BuildingConnected to manage their bid pipelines. The benefits ranged from streamlining information sharing to greater visibility into which bids to prioritize. However, there was one common thread: shared data on a unified platform drives better decision-making around resource planning and execution.
The Benefits of Streamlined Bid Management
1. Increased visibility and information sharing with everything on one, intuitive interface
“We used to track everything in Excel, but it was an outdated and cumbersome process,” says Emich. “With information not being accurately collected, we were unable to track what bids had gone out, who was working on what bid, and what our win ratio was. The process was chaotic.”
BuildingConnected enables teams to streamline information sharing on one platform. With a centralized platform for bid management, teams can eliminate the redundancies of uploading information into disparate systems when subcontracting part of a bid to a subcontractor. By having all information on one platform, teams have increased visibility into bidding and can operate more efficiently.
“The utility in the platform enables us to synchronize data between what we’re bidding on and bidding out seamlessly,” says Goeckner. “We don’t need to copy and paste information – dates, drawings, and specs – from emails. We can go into BuildingConnected, create a project, and share information from one project to the next.”
2. Greater flexibility in working from anywhere as information is managed automatically in real-time
With cloud-based tools, you can manage projects – regardless of location – and ensure that information is aggregated across multiple resources in real-time.
“There are few jobs where you can move from Seattle to San Diego and then move back while still working for the same company, even when that company doesn’t necessarily have projects based out of San Diego,” says Goeckner.
With BuildingConnected, teams have the flexibility to work remotely as all bid invitations and packages are managed in a centralized environment.
3. Understanding hit ratio, so you are chasing the most appropriate and viable opportunities
One of the biggest mistakes many specialty contractors make is bidding on every job. By reducing the number of proposals submitted, you’ll be able to improve the quality of your bids and select the best opportunities to bid with a higher probability of success.
“With BuildingConnected, we have been able to evaluate and refine our bid list by measuring which clients we’ve previously had success with,” says Emich. “This helps us to focus on where we’re going to spend our time and allows our team to cultivate deeper relationships with a more select clientele.”
4. Better resource management & not overextending teams by knowing what they’re bidding on
“When a new bid invitation comes in, the team evaluates if it’s worth pursuing – do we have enough resources, what does our current workload look like – and if we have the capacity, we add it into our workflow in BuildingConnected,” says Emich.
BuildingConnected is a one-stop-shop for teams to have visibility into what’s being bid on, so there is no overlap in projects and resources are managed efficiently. Gone are the days of the dry-erase boards to track who’s managing what bid. With BuildingConnected, teams have insight into who may be overloaded or what resources are available to manage a bid package effectively.
5. Increased time-savings, allowing teams to focus on creating competitive bids
“Time-savings are incredibly important in our industry – especially when you’re bidding on multiple projects,” says Goeckner. “With BuildingConnected, we save at least an hour on every project, which allows our team to spend time managing bid proposals with vendors to create more competitive bid packages.”
What do today’s workflows look like?
For many companies, bidding and qualification processes are disjointed, particularly when it comes to evaluating subcontractor risk. Because risk managers are siloed from the estimating department, the information the estimators need (things like company data and information on safety and financials) often lives on a platform they don’t have easy access to.
In many cases, bids are awarded then qualified, which means estimators are making decisions without complete information. This makes it difficult to analyze and manage risk.
An integrated bid management + qualification workflow
Autodesk Construction Cloud connects risk and project teams virtually, cutting the time to qualify on average by 33 percent. The process starts in BuildingConnected Pro, where bid managers can send invitations to bid and qualify at the same. TradeTapp steps in to help risk teams automatically identify potential risks, set internal limits, and decide on a qualification status. The results of this analysis show up in BuildingConnected so the bid manager can finish the process and make a more informed decision based on notes from the risk team.
Here’s what that looks like for a bid manager or estimator.
Integrated bid management + qualification in BuildingConnected Pro
First: all of this runs through a real-time, crowdsourced network that powers the entire bidding workflow. Autodesk’s one-of-a-kind builders network includes over a million construction professionals across the United States and Canada.
When you have a project you want to start bidding out, you can sort through the thousands of subcontractor profiles in the builders network to find the right ones for your project. The list of subcontractors is curated based on the scope of work, location, and how you’ve engaged with them in the past.
Each subcontractor profile contains their contact details, key information about the business, and their qualification details on one screen.
Filters allow bid managers to narrow down their list by:
- Whether or not the subcontractor is qualified
- What their internal limits are
- Their expiration date
If qualification status doesn’t exist, the estimating team can easily trigger a new qualification invite through BuildingConnected Pro, which will notify both the subcontractor and the risk team. Subcontractors will be able to complete their prequalification questionnaire on the same platform they use to submit proposals.
At this point in the process the risk team steps in to assign a qualification status based on TradeTapp’s risk analysis. Now when bids are received, they are received alongside crucial risk details. At every stage of the bidding process the Tradetapp integration displays the following:
- Qualification Status
- Expiration Date
- Project Limit / Total Limit
The Problem TradeTapp and BuildingConnected Solve Together
Risk managers have historically struggled with quickly analyzing, assessing, and communicating plans for subcontractor risk to estimating teams. This is because they’re often serving many projects at once, or their workflows are siloed from the estimating department.
Together, TradeTapp and BuildingConnected solve this problem, allowing company, financial, safety, insurance, and other subcontractor data to flow freely between platforms. We like to say, “Estimators live in BuildingConnected, and risk managers live in TradeTapp. Let the systems do the work of talking to one another.”
In TradeTapp, teams can assess risk, make decisions about qualification statuses, and communicate automatically through their company’s BuildingConnected account. In BuildingConnected, estimators can search for subcontractors and build their bid lists, knowing exactly where each of their subs stand in the qualification process.
After all, the most effective way to ensure that estimators consider risk as they bid out work is to make it a part of the systems and workflows that they operate in. Ease of discovery is key, which is why TradeTapp’s integration with BuildingConnected Pro displays qualification details in five different locations within the app. As estimators search for subcontractors, invite them to bid, review and compare bids, and ultimately award contracts, TradeTapp data remains front and center. This ensures risk stays top of mind as estimators evaluate subs, pushing them to think beyond just cost and availability.
How GCs Benefit from Integrated Bid Management & Qualification Workflows
With BuildingConnected Pro, GCs can:
- Get access to the most accurate database of subcontractors
- Quickly discover, invite, and choose the right trade partner for any project
- Reduce project risk and mitigate unforeseen costs before breaking ground
- Save time soliciting bids, accurately comparing and awards bids, and collaborating in real-time
With TradeTapp, GCs can:
- Tap into the largest crowdsourced Builders Network to expand reach to quality subs
- Compare similar subs against each other by assessing benchmark scores
- Get automated mitigation recommendations based on company specific risks to help proactively safeguard projects from future liabilities
- Speed up workflows and reduce wait time with an easy-to-use platform
With the BuildingConnected Pro and TradeTapp integration, GCs can:
- Surface essential risk related data (e.g. safety, financial, and backlog data) to estimators in BuildingConnected Pro, allowing them to make more educated bidding decisions
- Access a unified source of truth for sub data in the Builders Network
- Bring estimating and risk teams closer together through integrated workflows powered by one platform
How Subcontractors Benefit from Bid Management & Qualification Workflows
The integration between TradeTapp and BuildingConnected makes things easier on subcontractors, too. Some of the benefits this unified experience gives subcontractors include:
- A single login for both systems. This provides less hassle, as subcontractors only have to remember one username and password.
- Increased day-to-day efficiency. Subcontractors can save precious time as they’re able to bid and qualify in the same place.
- Simplified path to adoption. With a unified experience, there’s no need to create two separate accounts and have two onboarding experiences for two different products.
Why Risk-Adjusted Cost Is the Future
Developing accurate cost estimates is both an art and a science. The art of cost estimating has been refined over time by preconstruction professionals with decades of invaluable experience. However, with higher stakes than ever, it is vital to ensure that construction organizations also anticipate the implicit costs of performing complex projects.
Today, by using TradeTapp and BuildingConnected to help anticipate and surface risk insights, firms can plan for the possibilities earlier on in the project lifecycle. As technology continues to improve and data becomes more readily available, a risk-adjusted cost estimating approach will help general contractors uncover an even wider breadth of risk factors, helping ensure project success time and time again.
Contributing Authors: Christina Hu, Copywriter, Autodesk Construction Solutions; Dustin DeVan, Construction Industry Strategist and Evangelist at Autodesk Construction Solutions and Co-Founder of BuildingConnected