City of Brantford: Proven, trusted solution results in huge cost savings
Ambition and innovation are the City of Brantford’s inherent strengths. Located in the heart of Southern Ontario, Brantford is where “The Great One”, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky grew up, and where Alexander Graham Bell conceived the idea for the telephone. The City’s close proximity to major highways, rail lines and three Canadian ports of entry makes it an ideal location for thriving multinational companies and its budding commercial and service sectors.
With a growing vendor community, Brantford’s procurement department saw an opportunity. Vendors were starting to become accustomed to using an online bids and tenders system while the City only offered a physical pick-up and submission method for their documents. Staff began to assess what other municipalities were doing to manage contracts, and modernize their bids and tenders process.
We’re always striving to work in the most efficient way possible. We were interested in a progressive way to streamline our bids and tenders process, reduce administrative costs, and offer value to our internal and external customers while upholding the integrity of our services.
Paper, paper and more paper. One construction bid can result in stacks of paper, geotechnical reports, and large oversize drawings that need to be kept together. Managing the process was a challenge, and at times overwhelming, for vendors obtaining the documents, and for staff members issuing and organizing the documents.
Advertising a bid opportunity was usually done in the local paper. This required bid specifications to be confirmed at least a week in advance to meet advertising deadlines. Changes to the specifications right before or after the deadline caused headaches. Procurement staff was busy answering phone calls, helping visiting vendors with submission payments, or organizing bid summaries for public closings.
Proven, trusted solution
Brantford’s procurement manager turned to the Town of Newmarket, known for its pioneering initiatives in bids and tenders. Newmarket had established its bids&tenders system several years earlier, paving the way through its research, collaboration and bid testing with industry partners and public procurement agencies in both Canada and the USA.
Vendors don’t want to have to constantly learn new software. bids&tenders is used widely by other municipalities and there is an established user group that we can draw on for troubleshooting and peer support. And because all the information is updated in real-time, bids&tenders inherently encourages trust. Vendors are immediately notified of opportunities, can access bid results, and are able to plan their project resources more effectively.
Huge cost savings
Within six months, the City of Brantford’s bids&tenders logged 865 registered vendors, 270 online bid submissions, and approximately 1,000 contracts. The City estimates that the efficiencies obtained through bids&tenders has saved over $45,000 annually in resource efforts. bids&tenders offers the City a foundation for control, timeliness, streamlining, transparency, automation and reminders. The online solution has helped to establish the City as a forward-thinking, modern organization.
bids&tenders has saved a significant amount of resource time that previously would have been necessary to complete an array of administrative tasks. It has the added benefit of driving competitive pricing so the City receives the best value for services.
Focus on vendor success
Submitting a bid is a cost to vendors whether they are successful or not. bids&tenders eliminates errors by calculating line item costs automatically, and ensures all submissions are complete.
City staff thought a few vendors might be reluctant to embrace the online solution; however, within days of launching bids&tenders, these vendors had downloaded the documents and submitted their bids through the online process.
bids&tenders does a justice to the vendor. It’s very user-friendly and easy-to-use. The software guides the vendor through the submission process step by step and if you miss a component, it lets you jump right to the missed item to correct it. This functionality has made it virtually impossible for a vendor to submit an incomplete bid.
Secure audit trail
bids&tenders has greatly reduced the City’s paper, shipping, storage and retrieval costs. By the end of 2016, Brantford anticipates these costs will be permanently eliminated. The secure, searchable database provides an audit trail. Past submissions and documents can be retrieved quickly, and are useful for forecasting costs more accurately.
It's all right there in the secure database and easily searchable. Everything is keystrokes away in a centralized location for convenient tracking and document management. We no longer have to wait several days to retrieve contract information that has been archived and stored offsite.
Flexible and customizable
bids&tenders has introduced flexibility in many of the City’s procurement processes while adhering to policy and legal requirements. Previously, print ads made it very difficult to update content, and change bid posting deadlines. Now content can be easily updated in real-time, and any changes are communicated seamlessly with vendors. The City reaches a larger vendor community, can change postings and closings as needed, and can manage several closings in one day without additional stress on staff.
The software’s flexibility allows the City to layer on additional functionality as budget allows, and as staff and vendors become more familiar with the solution.
Optimal use of resources
With all of the efficiencies and streamlined processes, Brantford staff can now concentrate its efforts on value-added projects, and improve the content in bid documents to clarify specifications or mitigate reputational risk for the City. Some staff members are also involved in user groups where they learn from other municipalities using bids&tenders, and are informed of future enhancements.
bids&tenders does everything that we need it to do and more. For a procurement initiative to be successful, you need the support of Council and the trust of your vendors. It’s been a real win-win solution for us and our vendors. I continue to be excited by what the future holds.