There’s a wide-sweeping emphasis on “modernization” at all levels of government, and agencies are constantly evaluating ways to refine their solicitation and contract award processes to maximize the value of every dollar they spend. But, perhaps ironically, there are many situations in which it no longer benefits you to have the lowest priced solution or even the most innovative solution, unless you can demonstrate that it is indeed the best product, service or solution for the customer’s specific situation.
Agencies Aren’t Abandoning Best-Price Bids…
There are many instances in which agencies will award contracts to vendors with the lowest-priced bid, as long as they meet the minimum criteria. “Best price” is typically used for commodity and service category purchases, such as office supplies or janitorial services. On other occasions, securing the “best price” will be the goal, but additional evaluation criteria such as technical expertise and performance records will be considered to ensure the best priced-solution or vendor is also delivering the “best value” overall. So, don’t always assume the lowest price will make you the top contender.
However, Many Government Agencies are Starting to Prefer “Best-in-Class” Solutions for Bigger IT and System Buys…
More and more public sector entities are showing preference for solutions that are market-proven and mature, especially when it comes to IT and other major systems.
Agencies need to make fast, effective changes to improve the efficiency of government business and accomplish their missions. They can’t afford to disrupt operations, add complexity to already challenging processes or risk having to rip-and-replace systems multiple times to find the “right” solution. That would be wasteful. Plus, the government is contractually locked in with certain vendors, systems and services for a year or more in most instances. So, if they pick the wrong platform or service – if they choose the most impressive technology system based on simulated demos and find later in real-world deployments that it’s not suitable for their workflows or compatible with their other systems – then they are stuck. The last thing they want is to fail their internal agency or constituent stakeholders.
A couple years ago, Nevada’s procurement administrator Jeff Haag articulated the reasoning behind changing definition of “best-in-class”the state’s efforts to improve the procurement experience for both buyers and suppliers. When Nevada first solicited for a new eProcurement technology system, state leaders thought that they could benefit from the cool flashy eProcurement solutions being used in the private sector. But, after careful evaluation of those solutions’ capabilities, they started to question whether the architecture and toolsets of these “latest” platforms could be the “greatest” for the public sector environment. Although they may have proven to be “best-in-class” solutions for Fortune 500 organizations, at the end of the day, Nevada decided that it needed something that was proven to deliver the exact functionality and user experience that the modern government business model dictates. State leaders just weren’t confident those private sector solutions would translate well to the public sector or be truly compatible with Nevada’s existing business system frameworks.
Based on conversations we’re having with other state and local procurement leaders across the U.S. and headlines we’re seeing nearly every week now, it’s clear that government agencies at all levels are increasingly choosing to favor “best-in-class” solutions. Many just can’t afford to be solution “beta testers” to help prove new systems or services, especially at the state and local levels.
Now, that doesn’t mean the government is going to completely abandon incubator or small business-stimulating programs such as SBIR that encourage innovation. Nor are they going to automatically disregard the latest and greatest IT systems and service architectures. Innovative new technologies may prove to be the most valuable solution to ongoing problems or the best approach to achieving better outcomes, as long as they’re proven to deliver best-in-class results in the public sector setting.
Tip: If you’re pursuing a contract that prioritizes “best-in-class” evaluation criteria, be prepared to…
Need to "Prove" Your Solution in a Government Environment?
Private sector businesses bidding for the public sector’s business need to be ready and able to adapt government marketing and sales strategies. Understand what customers value most right now and stay apprised of new evaluation criteria guidance to ensure you’re showcasing the right strengths for each opportunity.