Behind the curtain of public procurement

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What’s the biggest hurdle to overcome in government procurement and the RFP process?

Derrick Koenig – Founder and CPO

I’ve been fortunate to speak with a lot of executives, consultants and engineers across North America during and before my time developing Ontopical. In recent years, a shortage of labor and the costs of materials have challenged every firm and contractor, and there’s no denying the impacts of the pandemic on accelerating these costs. But I’ve encountered another challenge for those sales executives and directors who engage with public sector and government projects; the bidding process can be obscure and frustrating at the best of times, even for those with decades of experience.

What I hear a lot in my long conversations is that “the RFP process favors those in the know.” Those without existing relationships in a region or connections to a municipal or state authority may feel discouraged by missed RFPs or a lost bid. At times, the frustration is clear, and I really can’t blame anyone who feels this way.

Government procurement and the public bidding process can be arduous, and time-consuming. Without advance notice, bidders are faced with preparing bids in only a few weeks with a poorly defined scope and in an environment where it is not easy to seek clarification on the needs of the customer. Successful bids need to be practical, realistic and meet every-tightening government budgets. Considered collectively, these realities are enough to keep even the biggest players to the slimmest of margins.

Relationships most often do matter as much as any other factor

Public projects and infrastructure development are the products of collaboration on an industrial scale. We all know that contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers and skilled tradespeople work in tandem and in harmony together over months and years. Those relationships build communities, and public organizations rely on relationships with and between this network of product and service suppliers.

…the RFP process favors those in the know.

These relationships don’t equate to preferential treatment, indeed public bidding processes and RFPs are slow and transparent for good reason. As the saying goes, better to measure twice and cut once. But for private bidders, a relationship with the organizations and communities looking to build the infrastructure and neighborhoods of the future is critical. These relationships grow through engagement and provide an understanding of the needs of a buyer, public or otherwise.

A strong relationship and understanding of how public organizations operate and articulate their needs can help any supplier to best position themselves as the most preferred solution.

Ontopical breaks down the barrier between bureaucratic organizations of all sizes and the companies who literally build our communities, no matter their presence or head office location. Tens of thousands of municipal, regional and state organizations publish hours of meetings and scores of documents every week across Canada and the United States. Searching and indexing even one school board or development committee can cost companies valuable time and money – and in an era of rising costs and labor shortages, every minute and every dollar counts.

Ontopical’s intuitive and finely honed solutions scour nearly 20,000 public committees, municipal councils, regional administrations and state authorities in real-time to identify the earliest possible signal of the upcoming needs of communities. This is achieved by focusing on the discussions and debates that precede the RFP process. This is often referred to as being ‘upstream’ of the RFP and is key to maximizing the success rate on bids.

By connecting service providers such as construction, engineering, architecture and development firms with future opportunities in real-time, Ontopical is a groundbreaking platform that helps firms build a backlog of business for years ahead, bringing stability and certainty in uncertain times. Ontopical helps grow your business without having to continuously chase RFPs. Request a free trial to learn more!

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