Seattle Gains Efficiencies in Decentralized Construction Bidding

The Challenge

The City of Seattle is one of the 20 largest cities in the nation and oversees hundreds of millions of dollars in public works projects each year. Before implementing eBid Systems software in 2001, the city was following a manual process with little oversight and high document management costs. The search for e-procurement software began at a time when budgets were tightening across the nation and the City of Seattle needed to see an immediate return on investment. They were looking for a solution that would bring consistency across departments, yet give each department a level of autonomy. Each department, including Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle Power and Light, and the Seattle Department of Transportation manages separate budgets, administrative staff, and expertise relative to their varied construction projects.

 

The Solution

The City of Seattle chose eBid Systems to deploy their supplier management, sourcing, and bidding software across the organization. The system simultaneously allows for autonomy and increased oversight. More than 140 city employees participate in the bid process as project managers, bid evaluators, and bid administrators; each has data permission levels relevant to their bid roles and responsibilities. Each department manages its own bids, while the Department of Finance and Administration Services (FAS) provides oversight to ensure standardization and accuracy.

Self-service, online vendor registration shifted the responsibility of maintaining contact information from the administrative staff to the vendors. With unlimited online document storage for each bid, the City of Seattle was able to eliminate document management costs including the printing and distribution of expensive plan sets. Registered vendors now have instant access to planholder lists, documents, and clarifications. In addition to electronic copies, they can place online orders for hardcopy plans to be printed by a local reprographics firm.

 

The Results

With eBid Systems software, the City of Seattle found immediate ROI through decreased administrative and document management costs. By replacing manual tasks with automated processes, bid management time was reduced by an estimated 50-70 percent, each department maintained their autonomy, and the overall process became much more consistent and transparent. “There is no way we would be able to do this with a manual system,” states Jason Edens, Senior Program Administrator. Departments now have access to a growing pool of more than 7,000 qualified vendors and see a steady increase in bid competition. From 2013 to 2016, the City of Seattle awarded contracts totaling half a billion dollars through their procurement portal.