To achieve a competitive advantage in bidding, it is essential to have accurate, complete, and well-organized data that can be leveraged to identify patterns and insights, and inform strategic decisions. Companies should invest in data management strategies and tools to ensure that their data is complete, accurate, and well-organized, which can help them to gain a competitive edge in the market.

Having a central bid system provides a solid data foundation for your company’s contract tenders, and is the platform your team relies on to win them. By analyzing historical data, contractors bidding for work can strategically select projects to bid on, estimate more accurately, and demonstrate success to clients.

Technology is crucial for collecting, organizing, and accessing data in a streamlined manner. Contractors bidding for work should choose software with convenient features like real-time data access of their customer’s bidding history,  bid outcomes, the process it followed, and any project or contract related data that could inform future decisions or strategies.

Without centralised systems to run a bidding process, information gets lots in silos, and knowledge transfer is at risk of being poorly executed.  In fact, a study by FMI Research among construction industry contractors found that 35% of time is spent searching for data and project information, and that “bad data” – data that is inaccurate, incomplete, inaccessible, inconsistent or untimely, which can’t be used to derive actionable insights – may have cost the global construction industry $1.85 trillion in 2020.

By having data all in one place contractors can avoid wasting time transferring information between spreadsheets, deciphering hastily scribbled field notes, or digging through inboxes. Here’s some examples of how centralised bidding data can help you win the right bids.

Where can we find opportunities? 

Accessing tender opportunities is the first step in the bid process. There are literally thousands of tender portals worldwide and in the past if you didn’t know which portal to find, you didn’t know what opportunities you’d missed (lost opportunities for both bidders and procurement). This is now changing with the introduction of the Open Contracting Data Standards (OCDS). This is a provide a common framework for publishing and sharing procurement data, including information on tender portals. OCDS defines a common data model and a set of standard fields that can be used to describe procurement processes and contracts, making it easier for different systems to share and exchange data.  By using OCDS to publish data on tender portals, different stakeholders can access and analyze the information more easily, leading to greater transparency, accountability, and efficiency in procurement processes. OCDS also allows for the integration of data from multiple sources, including different tender portals, making it easier to compare and analyze procurement data across different contexts.

Should we bid?

You’ve got your shortlist of opportunities for assessment.  Now selecting the kinds of projects or services to bid on is the next step in the bidding process.  Using historical data from your past bids is a common practice for analysing the types of bids you’re more likely to win or lose.  But as well as past decisions, it’s equally important to establish your project availability (and not just bid resourcing).  Looking at your project scheduling you should review your current data around project start dates and completion dates to ensure your company has the bandwidth to take on a new project should the bid be successful.  If you have a better picture of your project experience and current commitments, you can use this information for track records/experience, case studies and capacity to deliver to strengthen your proposal.

Estimate with greater accuracy

Once the bid has been delivered and the price has been accepted, do you follow up to compare the actual cost of similar past projects or do you pull out past bids?  This is possibly one of the biggest human errors in bidding, where the bid team refers to ”winning bids” for pricing of their next proposal.  The danger here of course is that project scope can change, and unless you monitor data once they become projects your bid team could continue to make costly mistakes. According to a study from McKinsey, 20% of construction projects are not completed on time, while 80% go over budget.  To help estimators make more accurate predictions, having access to a margin and markup calculator as well as contract data can help contractors find out their real revenue, based on their known cost and target profit margin percentage.

Which tools to use?

Contractors these days have access to many tools to collect and organise their data, and integration of these applications now makes it even more possible to streamline them into a single source of truth.  Contractors that use data can achieve a winning – and cost – advantage over their competition by gaining insights that help them bid more strategically and create stronger bids.  To take advantage of the benefits of data, contractors should invest in the right technology to collect and organize their bidding data effectively. A central bid system therefore, should collect and store pertinent, correct and accurate data about your bidding efforts, turning that data and knowledge into fuel for future success.