Sealed Bidding

Sealed Bidding

What Is Sealed Bidding?

A sealed bid is a way to ensure that the process of selecting a company for contract work will be a fair and open competition. A bidder can provide all relevant information about themselves or just leave it vague so there is no opportunity for outside influence in the decision.

The bidding process is meant to ensure that the Government gets only one offer for each item on their procurement list. This means any discussions between bidders and adverse parties are not allowed, as well as anything related such as price discounts.

Below are the elements of a sealed bid process:

The Preparation Before The Invitation For Bids

All the requirements and specifications that are important for the Government request must be described clearly, concisely, and completely. This is necessary so that the bidders understand what is being asked. There must not be any overly restrictive requirement that severely limits the number of bidders to choose from.

Publicly Announcing The Invitation For Bids

It is essential to publicize the invitation for bids through distributions and public announcements. This is not only to save time but also to ensure that all prospective vendors are aware of what is made available. They need to have an adequate opportunity before submitting their own offers so they can prepare themselves.

The Submission Of Sealed Bids

Interested vendors must submit sealed bids. These bids will only be publicly opened at the determined time and place.

The Evaluation Of The Sealed Bids

The submitted vendor bids will be publicly opened and reviewed without discussion.

The Contract Is Awarded

The Government is looking for a contractor to provide certain goods or services. After bids are publicly opened, an award will be made with reasonable promptness to that vendor whose bid conforms according to the invitation. The Government will consider what bid is the most advantageous and at what price and any price-related concerns.

What Is A Relational Database?

What Is A Relational Database?

The table of a typical Excel spreadsheet that contains rows and columns filled with pieces of information is very familiar. This is the picture of structured information. In a relational database software program, such digital columns and rows store and connect data in tables. The relationships between all its rows are then logically connected.

For a couple of examples of the relations: The last names of people with a certain spelling are logically grouped and available for manipulation. Or the people living in a certain location are logically grouped and available for manipulation. This tabular arrangement is a suitable method for any type of structured or connected information. It is probably the best way to store and manipulate stored textual data.

The use of relations in databases has been very beneficial to the way we store and access information. They make it easier, more efficient, and more flexible than before with their intuitive design.

Relational databases are a great way to keep your information up to date. You can set them so that one instance of datum will automatically get edited or changed, and all related data receive real-time updates.

Typical Traits Of Relational Databases

· SQL Language

Software technology called Structured Query Language (SQL) is generally used to work with the data in the structured arrangement of tables and columns. If a query is entered into the database, it can be used by SQL commands or queries that are stored in this format.

SQL is used for various purposes such as adding records or editing information within those same fields. Like other software applications, the SQL system pulls data from a server or some other storage device, then loads it into memory for manipulation.

· Clustering

Relational databases are an excellent choice for managing large sets of related data. These storage systems reduce the number of queries required to pull information because similar pieces have been grouped together in what’s called a cluster.

This reduces time spent searching through all available records when you need something specific instead of just scrolling endlessly through your entire database. Usually, relational databases are incapable of managing either high-performance or large-scale processing of data.

· Database Integrity

Integrity is an important quality of any database and regards several aspects. For instance, security concerns may include making sure that the data you are working with is not being altered by other people or programs. Such alterations should not be done without permission from its original author(s). Several concerns regarding integrity are:

· Accurate data

· Compromised data

· Data consistency

Automated Data Management

A relational database is an excellent method of data management for data that is already structured. Unfortunately for many organizations, the troves of data that pours into their premises come in varied, non-textual forms and are unstructured. These troves of data pouring into organizations, called Big Data, can be a goldmine of valuable and actionable information. But it is challenging to analyze while unstructured.

The Content Analytics Platform (CAP), developed by Scion Analytics, can help with the analysis of the textual forms of Big Data. The CAP uses software technology empowered with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP). The CAP can quickly shred unstructured documents and rearrange the contents into a structured format. The data can then become an actionable goldmine.

RFP Types

RFP Types

A Request For Proposals (RFP) is announced by either private businesses or the federal government for all interested contractors. In awarding contracts, the US Government considers expertise as well as low pricing. RFPs demand detailed specifications, much skill, cost-effectiveness, and strict compliance.

This public call for vendor proposals stimulates competition. The contractors submit proposals describing what they can provide and at what price for the requesting government agency or private organization.

The requesting agency’s stakeholders draft the RFP in the hope of attracting the very best suppliers to choose from. Candidates can then put their best foot forward to secure attractive opportunities that will help them grow as an individual or as a company. For vendors, the RFP is the chance to look at the requesting clients and their project descriptions before any contracts are signed.

A successful bidding process starts with stakeholders who are very knowledgeable about the project or need. The person or team writing the RFP should have experience in decision-making and know their project well. These individuals, more than executives, will be sufficiently invested and understand both what needs to be done and how best to accomplish those goals. Some of the important RFP aspects that the vested stakeholders need to address are:

· The Needs

The RFP is basically an advertisement of a project that needs to be accomplished for an agency or organization. It should mention this objective, the requirements, the necessary skillset, and the timeframe for completion.

· The RFP Writers

This needed project and all expected qualifications should be presented by writers in a template formula so that the expectations are clear to the vendors.

· The Response Evaluations

The team of RFP writers, the project stakeholders, should then carefully review and evaluate each proposal that is submitted in response to the RFP. These same team members should then decide who is the best choice contractor.

There are other types of formal requests used for the pursuit of qualified contractors:

Request For Information (RFI)

Organizations can use a Request For Information (RFI) to obtain more information before making their decision to formally advertise for a project. The RFI helps them figure out what exactly is needed. It is a sign that they are taking a serious interest in the matter.

Request For Quote (RFQ)

When agencies or organizations have determined a need but are unsure of the cost to accomplish it, then a Request For Quote can be used. This will gather interested suppliers with the asking price. This helps customers determine which vendor to retain.

Request For Tender (RFT)

Projects and proposals are often advertised with an RFQ, which serves the same purpose as a Request For Tender (RFT). The RFT is more often announced by government agencies. This means that stakeholders feel confident in their decision to purchase goods or services from specific suppliers based on requirements set out by this document’s specifications.

Conclusion

Whether you are a seasoned professional or just getting started, completing an RFP, RFQ, RFT, or an RFI is not always easy. Using robust automation software can help quickly prepare request templates.

The Proposal & Contract Suite is an out-of-the-box solution that helps you prepare successful RFP templates, business proposals, and contracts. It is comprehensive and fully customizable.

Capture Management Tips

Capture Management Tips

Gather insight, build connections, and strategize how you will win future Requests For Proposal (RFP) opportunities with capture management. Capture management is a process of understanding and strategizing how your company can best win an upcoming RFP. This includes several actions. Gathering insight into what the customer needs, building connections with them before they receive any other bids or proposals, and demonstrating knowledge about these issues. It basically means positioning yourself ahead in terms of solving those problems.

Both the point and the significance of capture planning are in the timing. The attempt to win a particular customer’s business interest is before the actual RFP is published by the customer. The capture management process is unique to a particular procurement project. It is the strategy to win this new customer before the RFQ process begins. A capture plan is a marketing strategy that must be executed early on for it to be successful. You need time and research, as well as contacting customers so they can feel connected throughout the process.

Identify Winning Proposal Themes

· The term “win theme” is a misnomer. It only means a high-level idea that provides key benefits and features that will appeal to the customer. These suffuse the proposal and are less detailed than “proposal themes.” The win theme quickly answers the basic question as to why your company should be selected for the job. Proposal themes are what are being considered here.

· The central idea that is supported with quantifiable data is the proposal theme. This central idea or solution that emphasizes your differentiators can be a sure way to distinguish your proposals from all the competition. It sets you apart in terms of what makes this product different than others.

· Recognize that capture management is a process that takes time. You must become aware of some things about the business opportunity to even develop a winning proposal theme.

· Attempt to create a relationship with the potential customer and become aware of major concerns with the customer, sometimes called “hot buttons.”

· Strategize how you can position yourself with your unique qualifiers and the solutions your company can provide the customer.

Assume A Strong Posture

· Be sure to employ a capture manager. This individual will be responsible for the overall strategy and research to produce a capture plan.

· An important move is to also employ not just a team but the right team. These members will know how to breed good ideas and help develop the capture plan.

· Discuss the benefits and advantages of your company’s offering, demonstrating your advantages with proven data.

· Attempt to contact and influence the key stakeholders such as the executives and the procurement team.

· One of the best ways to assume a strong posture is to leverage advanced technology that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to quickly help prepare capture planning.

Conclusion

Capture planning is key to winning contracts. It starts with identifying winning themes to offer a customer. Winning proposal themes are high-level ideas that discuss features and benefits. These will run like a persistent current through each respective portion of a well-written proposal, leaving no doubt about your excellence for the customer.

What Is An RFP In Government Contracting?

What Is An RFP In Government Contracting?

A contract is a formal agreement between business parties that are enforceable in law. US Government procurement at the federal, state, or local level is a process by which agencies acquire goods as well as services. This often includes construction. Government agencies and private organizations will often issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) to purchase a product or a service.

What Does RFP Stand For?

A Request for Proposals (RFP) is announced by the federal government for all interested contractors. In awarding contracts, the government considers expertise as well as low pricing. By law, government agencies are required to make public calls for services to prevent unfair commercial favoritism. This public invitation stimulates competition.

Benefits

There are several benefits deriving from the industry standard of using an RFP:

· RFPs are essentially an advertisement that casts a wide net of invitation to any qualified vendor

· RFPs create a fair playing field for any qualified vendor

· RFPs stimulate real competition among vendors

When To Use An RFP

There are different kinds of formal requests for information used by government agencies or private organizations, whether small or large, when seeking a business procurement. These different kinds of documents are

used for different reasons though all of them seek procurement. Some of the more common ones are Request For Information (RFI), Request For Quotation (RFQ), and Request For Proposal (RFP). There are times when you will use the RFP because:

· Your company or government agency sees a need and they do not currently have enough resources to supply the solution.

· Your company does not need to ask for solution ideas from suppliers or for prices alone or has already done so.

· You company is seriously interested in pursuing a need to be supplied.

· It means that you are looking for only qualified vendors to submit a suitable but compelling and cost-effective suggestion or proposal for supplying this need.

After The RFP Announcement

What happens after the RFP has been publicized? Basically, a selection process happens:

· After the RFP has been submitted, interested parties develop solution proposals and submit these.

· After the proposals have been received, a preliminary selecting process can begin. This is where the RFP issuer identifies the most qualified candidates who are placed into a shortlisted group of vendors.

· The interested candidates wait during the selection process and hope to be the winning bidder. There may be a long process of narrowing down the list of most qualified candidates, especially by the federal government.

Conclusion

A well-written RFP is crucial for ensuring that both the company issuing it as well as those who respond know what they are looking forward to. It should convey an idea of how your proposal will meet their needs, which in turn helps you win this job.

There are many time-consuming challenges of developing, collaborating on, and evaluating information request documents. One of the best ways to

overcome these challenges is by leveraging software tools enhanced with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural language Processing (NLP). The Proposal & Contracts Suite is just such an out-of-the-box solution.

Plain Language Tips

Plain Language Tips

Communicating in an understandable language is fundamental for meaningful human interaction. When a person does not understand a foreign language spoken to him, there remains an ignorance about the intentions of that person speaking. This same problem can exist when the same language is spoken between two people but not in a clear, understandable way. The meaning or intention can be missed just as well.

In our busy, modern society, few people can read and process information instantly. It is important for us all as readers or listeners to be clear with what we say or write. It is important to communicate it easily enough so that others will understand your message from their first hearing or reading of the text.

Plain language does this by eliminating unnecessary or unknown words, which can lead to confusion or distraction. Plain language saves you valuable minutes by reducing mental translation work.

However, what is plain language for some people is not necessarily plain for another group. But it will prove to be plain language for your target audience if they:

· Understand what they hear or read the first time

· Can follow directions easily

· Can find effective solutions to their questions or needs

Below are key tips for communicating in plain language:

Use One Idea Per Sentence

Break up complex thoughts into easily expressed short sentence units that contribute to the main point. Readers will more effectively track your thinking. People will not absorb the main point because of the distractions of subordinate ideas. Long, complex sentences with connected ideas and supporting clauses are hard to follow.

Avoid Long Sentences

Shorter sentences promote successful communication. Parts of a complex idea are more easily grasped when presented individually. The reader can then build up the simple ideas to the complex idea structure more successfully. A single idea conveyed in one short sentence appears and sticks to the reader’s mind more easily. Readers will see the idea better than reading longer sentences carrying a train of related notions.

Use An Active Voice

Using an active voice easily points out the actor in a sentence. Passive voice sentences can seem evasive regarding significant actors in a contract agreement, for example.

Benefits Of Using Plain Language

There are several important benefits for using plain language in both business and personal communications:

· Plain language is the fastest way to communicate a message clearly

· Plain language will give understanding to the majority of readers

· Most people will not need more explanation when they read your plain language communication

· Studies have shown that pain language communication in business improves workplace understanding and efficiency, which results in time and costs savings

Conclusion

Commercial corporations should be clear when drafting contracts to procure business. Whether these contracts are between business to business or doing business with the federal government, the contractual language should be plain and understandable. Not only does the federal government need to use plain language for its public communications but private enterprises should too.

Unstructured Data Analysis Tools

Unstructured Data Analysis Tools

Data is a big deal. It is a new goldmine for businesses that are driven by data. Massive amounts of this new gold pours into organizations in the form of various kinds of information, or “big data.” But there is a challenge with all this new information coming in daily. More than 90% of it is unstructured

Big data, or unstructured data, are data contents that cannot be neatly fitted into a spreadsheet or accessed as easily as a database. It is difficult to store and manage, but creative minds have been finding new ways all the time.

It can be difficult both to analyze and to search, which has made this type of information less useful for organizations. Less useful until recently now that we have tools powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP). These new AI programs were specifically created to access insights from these types of unstructured data sets.

With the recent flood of unstructured data, it has become easier than ever for businesses to make use of this new source. Business Analytics (BI) and analytics tools are being developed that have been specifically created with the goal in mind. The goal of analyzing all types or formats is to discover actionable value.

The main tool that organizations use to help analyze the various kinds of unstructured data is the process of extraction. This means, in very simple terms, mapping or tagging key elements of the content in question.

For example, photographs cannot be analyzed as structured textual data that has been neatly fitted into a spreadsheet. They are composed of pixels rather than words. But if you look for certain items or elements in the photographs, you can then tag or label them according to important ideas. The extraction of these tags, or labels, becomes your data. These data discoveries can then be used for actionable business insights.

When the data is properly analyzed, or discovered, it can be classified. Data classification is the process of tagging data according to its type, its sensitivity, or its confidentiality, and the cost if altered or stolen.

With classification information, you can implement security controls to protect data from accidental or intentional compromise as well as comply with the compliance mandates.

The Contents Analytics Platform (CAP)

The Content Analytics Platform, or “CAP,” is a customizable text analytics tool. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), it can easily provide customizable and configurable insights into your data content. The CAP can quickly analyze either structured or unstructured textual data, producing both structured and manageable data contents.

The CAP is comprised of various independent components. These are applications, dictionaries, and templates, which can work together in different combinations to analyze your unstructured data and deliver results.

The components of the CAP come as a standard package. Applications and templates that you can use right out of the box. The CAP is also designed to be flexible and scalable to meet your content analysis needs.

Here are just a few examples of the many tasks that can be easily and quickly performed with the CAP:

· Decide whether to bid on a Request For Proposals (RFP)

· Comparatively evaluate resumes for the best job candidate

· Evaluate document readability and even improve it

· Generate a table of acronyms and their definitions

· Ensure full proposal compliance with RFP requirements

· Breakout all RFP requirements into a structured, easily viewable, easily manageable document

· Identify all common themes, phrases, words in your content

· Compare document differences and gaps side-by-side

· Capture important content terms and create a dictionary with them

With a little imagination and skill, you can create your own applications and templates.

Conclusion

In the age of big data, it’s easier than ever for businesses to extract value from unstructured data. BI and analytics tools are being developed that have been specifically created with this goal in mind –analyzing all types or formats so you can discover actionable insights on demand.

The Content Analytics Platform (CAP), developed by Scion Analytics, can help with textual data discovery. The CAP can quickly analyze any textual data, in any format, and turn it into structured data that is discoverable for value.

Government Contract Types

Government Contract Types

Many businesses and business individuals contract with one of the federal government’s departments or agencies to provide goods or services, a construction project, or some other tasks. These businesses are known as government contractors. There may be other businesses working under the primary company. These are known as federal subcontractors.

Federal contractors and subcontractors have a special responsibility to ensure that they are not discriminating against any of the listed protected groups. Discrimination based on sex, race/ethnicity, religion, and disability status is prohibited by law. Hiring people from historically marginalized communities who may be underrepresented in certain jobs, for example, African Americans versus Caucasian males. Affirmative action measures must also be taken when looking into candidates’ diverse backgrounds as well.

There are five main types of government contracts that may be entered into. Each contract type has its own characteristics. These are listed below:

Indefinite Delivery & Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contracts

A task order in government contracting is a smaller, special request that is announced by the government agency, usually for a service rather than a product. It is the direct result of a type of request called Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ). It is directed to a smaller group of pre-vetted contractors.

These flexible contracts are the most accommodating regarding both quantity and time. They are awarded if a government is not sure how much of a product they will need or when. These types of bids can allow contractors more freedom in providing their services than other future-oriented bidding methods. There is no set amount specified at first glance.

Time And Materials Contacts

This type of contract is the simplest one. The government agency will determine the labor rate, the cost of materials, and a price ceiling. If a business can accept these straightforward terms, then it is a great opportunity.

Cost-Reimbursement Contracts

Fixed-Price Contracts are usually seen as the safer choice for both parties, but there is always risk involved. Cost reimbursement arrangements put more pressure on the government agencies because they have less protection in case anything goes wrong with their product or service development process. This means this type of contract will probably be found mostly among research and development projects rather than ones that provide goods or services.

There are several cost-reimbursement contract types:

· Cost/cost-sharing

· Cost-plus-fixed-fee

· Cost-plus award fee

· Cost-plus incentive fee

These may have a minimum and maximum range for payments.

Incentive Contracts

Incentive contracts can be a great opportunity for businesses. Either a cost-reimbursement contract or a fixed-price contract will be the basis with added incentives. For example, a construction project with a speedy completion is important because a project might interrupt vehicle traffic. An incentive contract award will go to a contractor who finishes quickly.

Fixed-Price Contracts

Sometimes, a ceiling price or target cost is used to determine the final amount of goods and services that will be delivered. The good news is that with fixed-price contracts, you are working under a set budget. The bad part?

Well, the risk of not meeting your deadline or finishing on time would still be yours to take. This is fixed-price contracting