The Umbrella Initiative mission is “to double the number of small businesses contracting with the government by the year 2020.”
Our goal is to help businesses better manage their own government contracting efforts, in short – we make better contractors.
The Umbrella Initiative believes that the State needs a single platform that will allow all vendors and all agencies to interact with the goal of improving the procurement process, costs, and participation for all parties involved.
The Bidspeed-powered solution (Click here to learn more about Bidspeed) is unique. It provides a way to aggregate disparate procurement system data into a single, web-based application that allows both vendors and agency users a single location for end-to-end procurement, award tracking, vendor registration, team-based networking, procurement related notification.
Our approach is also unique. Our approach is built on an existing system with real success. Once fully integrated, the system will allow the State of Florida to manage all procurements from a single location throughout the entire life-cycle of the procurement process – from initial advertisement, interactive Q&A, response, and award tracking and reporting.
The portal will allow the State and its many participating agencies to aggregate current data sources into a single system without the requirement to replace existing procurement systems. Bidspeed will allow agencies to participate in the system with a minimum of effort, further improving our chances for success.
What The Portal Provides
- A single location available to the public for all procurement activities and opportunities that are happening in the state.
- A complete procurement management system that will support data sources of many types. The system will support data flowing into the system in various ways – entry by the Florida agencies directly into the system or via programmatic data feeds, regular automated or manual data imports, or sophisticated crawling technology.
- Complete tracking of solicitation modifications and changes, including a way to correspond with State Agency buyers and Solicitation decision makers.
- A notification engine that allows both vendors and agency users a customizable set of notifications.
- A rich set of customizable search agents that will allow vendors to personalize their search criteria and be proactively notified as new opportunities are posted.
- Tracking and indexing of solicitation attachments – Documents, Drawings, Plans, and Requirements.
- A complete Vendor Registration system that allows for simple registration for all vendors.
- Complete award tracking on all opportunities. Award data will be fed into the Bidspeed system using one of the methods for data entry and update.
- Simple, easy-to-use reporting interface on award data, vendor participation, and small and disabled business percentages.
The benefits are numerous and far reaching:
- Provide a simplified and SINGLE view of ALL procurement data in the state. Vendors benefit in both a reduction in time and complexity and in their ability to properly weight their efforts toward opportunities exactly suited to their business.
- Provides a simple way for state agencies to expose their data to facilitate advertisement of the solicitations if so desired.
- Increased buying power for the State. Today, many opportunities cannot be pursued effectively by the correct businesses and are simply not well represented. In providing a single view of all data, the State will automatically expose their procurement opportunities to a greater number of interested vendors. More importantly, because vendors will be able to see all opportunities in a single location, they will be able to more accurately target their efforts toward appropriate opportunities.
- Reduced turnaround for current high-cost tasks – response management, award reporting, vendor registration, and vendor/agency collaboration.
A healthy vendor community is a requirement to the success of the project. Vendors need to be supported, trained, and encouraged. The portal will provide the best technology possible for making better vendors and an ideal platform for establishing a support network.
Support will involve a jointly-developed, Florida located support center, centrally managed by the Umbrella team and further augmented by local SBDC centers.
What’s Wrong Today
The current system exists as a burden to both contractor and advertising agency. The current procurement systems are fragmented and exist as individual silos in each agency and even within related departments of existing agencies.
There are several key problems:
- There is no one single location for existing procurements within the state. A prospective contractor must navigate a myriad of web sites with different formats and registration requirements. Many of the sites require separate authentication information, further adding to the burden of the contractor.
- None of the current systems are designed with the contractors needs in mind, particularly the small and small and disadvantaged businesses that would or could provide products and services to the state. The contractor is left to their own devices without best practice guidance from the state contracting personnel.
- There is no established process that helps the contracting officers perform market research or fairly decide on procurement strategy (e.g. set-asides). Contractors do not have any way to influence procurement strategy. (This exists at the federal level with “Sources Sought” solicitations and provides a reasonable high level model for the state to follow.)
- There is no consistent and centralized registration system. In some cases there is no registration at all. Because of this, there is no means to measure actual or potential participation. There is not a way to communicate with potential contractors information about regulatory changes or solicit feedback on difficult or future procurement activities.
- There is no collaborative platform or conduit between contractor and agency. Questions and answers are at best summarized and advertised, at worst simply ignored. This deficit adds to the procurement cost in the form of lost time from both contractor and agency.
- There is no empirical means to track award data. This is problematic at several levels – lack of accurate small and disadvantaged participation data, lack of procurement cost data (e.g. the cost of awarding the contract), lack of accurate time prediction data (there isn’t any way to predict how long any given procurement will take).
Key Solution Features
The proposed Unified Procurement Solution (UPS) addresses the major problems that exist today:
- The UPS is designed to be a single, central, and always available system for all state procurements.
- The UPS is designed to help both the small business contractor and the agency procurement officers.
- The UPS provides a simple and transparent means to establish procurement strategy. The proposed system allows cost effective market research capabilities and transparent analysis for the contracting agency without adding significant (and unfair) burden to the potential small business contractor.
- The UPS provides a single, centralized, state-wide registration system that allows the state to effectively track data about all procurement activity and further provides a location for information flow to the contractor community from the state.
- The UPS provides an online conduit directly between the contracting agency and the contractor community.
- The UPS provides real-time award data directly and empirically linked to all procurement artifacts –initial strategy, solicitation advertisement, to final award.
Data is the Center of the Network
Our belief is that team formation and management is fundamentally a networking exercise. We further believe that a teaming network is best established around actual opportunities.
General purpose partnerships do little in moving companies actively forward towards our primary goal of increasing the participation and success of small business teams related to federal, state, and local governments.
To allow the network to prosper, the current opportunity data will be integrated into a single, contractor-focused system.
The portal is not intended as a wholesale replacement to existing state procurement systems – rather, it simply consumes the current data as a way to provide the contractor and contractor teams collaborative access state opportunities.
The portal will benefit both the buying agencies and the contractors by allowing real-time access to state procurement resources and establishing a two-way communication conduit between the state and its suppliers.
The Portal – Unified Procurement Solution
- Single, comprehensive location for all state procurement data
- Enables larger vendor participation – more vendors, more jobs, reduced procurement costs
- Improves cost and quality of procured services
- Allows for transparent procurement strategy and market research
- Universal vendor registration, certification, and education platform
- Leverages federal registration data (CCR)
- Real time reporting on socio-economic distribution
- 3rd party certification and education provider platform – dependable, efficient, cost-effective
- Opportunity based, collaborative online social teaming platform
- Opportunity based business-to-business networking platform
- Team formation, collaboration, and management
- Strengthens small and disabled businesses ability to win larger state procurements
- Transparent, real-time award tracking
- Empirical award data and complete reporting capabilities
- Reduced agency reporting burden and cost
- Eliminates static, post-mortem analysis of award distribution
- Vendor focused communication and productivity system
- Streamlines opportunity search and response
- Enables real-time communication between vendor and agency
- Allows for true networking between vendors
- Real time access to relevant education opportunities and providers
- Contextual, relevant, online education opportunity knowledge exchange
- Allows for 3rd party eco-system of education providers
- Enables real-time, online, and social feedback and ratings by small business participants