Making the Q&A Process Simple
When it comes to the solicitation process, the vendor question and answer period can be crucial for your agency. It’s an important way for vendors to get clarification regarding any aspect of your solicitation that may not be clear. However, it can also be time consuming. Fielding numerous phone calls or emails can take hours out of your day and can disrupt your workflow on other projects. Utilizing BidNet Direct’s ‘Question & Answers’ feature is not only a great way save time, but it is also a great way to ensure you don’t miss any questions from vendors, thereby ensuring a fair and transparent purchasing process.
BidNet Direct’s Q & A Feature
BidNet Direct centralizes all questions from vendors and keeps them attached to each specific solicitation, making them available at your fingertips in an easy to find manner. You can also set a deadline for question submissions, ensuring that you have adequate time to answer all questions, with that deadline clearly published to all interested bidders. After the deadline has passed, your agency can go in and answer each question within the platform. When answering, your agency will have the ability to make the question and subsequent answer either public or private. Private answers will only be made available to the specific vendor who asked the question. This can be helpful when a vendor submits a question specific to the process of their own organization. When made public, all vendors who have access to your solicitation page will be able to see the list of questions and answers. After answering the questions, you will have several options of how to publish your answers to interested vendors.
Answering vendor questions online
The platform provides several options for how your agency can disseminate your agency’s answers to submitted questions. One such way your agency can answer any submitted questions is the previously mentioned public answering, which is done right through the Questions and Answers tab. After the question submission deadline has passed, your agency can go in and answer any or all questions before placing them up on the specific solicitation’s Question and Answers tab. This will simply involve each question and answer being posted in the “Question and Answers” tab on the solicitation’s page.
Another way your agency can choose to answer questions is by issuing a communication. Rather than posting the questions and answers within the tab, the platform generates a communication that lists out all of the questions and answers for the solicitation and publish it within the “Communications” tab. This allows vendors to download a PDF of the communication and will alert all applicable vendors who are signed up for notifications matching your solicitation’s NIGP codes. This is a great way to further your solicitation’s outreach in case new vendors have come on board or a previously registered vendor may have missed the original solicitation.
Some agencies also choose to issue an addendum with a list of their questions and answers. The process for your agency is essentially the same as issuing a communication, the only difference being which vendors automatically receive it. The addendum will go to vendors who are signed up for notifications matching their NIGP codes, those who sign up specifically for alerts regarding your solicitation, and any vendors who have already downloaded a document from the solicitation. The key benefit to answering a question via an addendum though is that your agency can see a date and time stamp of all of the vendors who downloaded that addendum. This can be key when viewing the plan holder’s list to ensure that all bid submissions were done with all of the necessary information in hand. Not only does it again help to ensure a fair and transparent purchasing process, but it can be essential.
Benefits of Q&A
One of the key benefits of utilizing the platform’s Question and Answer feature is helping keep your agency’s solicitations organized. All applicable questions and answers are stored within a specific solicitation’s page. This can be especially helpful when you have several solicitations out at once and are fielding questions about different goods and services being procured with varying deadlines. Rather than constantly double checking which questions go with which solicitation, it’s all sorted for you!
The platform also helps you save time from your old processes of answering questions from vendors. By centralizing all of the questions within the solicitation, you won’t have to spend time searching through emails trying to find each question submitted under various subject lines. You will also be able to eliminate the interrupting phone calls for each question. Instead of spending time emailing or calling each specific vendor, many of whom may have similar questions, you can answer questions one time and publish to all vendors at one time.
Answering questions regarding a bid opportunity can be a crucial part of the solicitation process. BidNet Direct’s ‘Question and Answers’ feature provides several ways for disseminating answers to submitted questions. No matter what way your agency uses to issue their Questions and Answers, the platform’s feature allows you to centralize the process, thereby putting an end to countless communications with vendors and giving you back valuable time in your day while also ensuring a fair and transparent purchasing process!
To find out more about how your agency can utilize BidNet Direct’s Q&A feature, or to get it set up on your account, call our Buyer Support team at 1-800-835-4603 option 3.