Electronic tendering: an industry perspective

CRC Construction Innovation (2001) Electronic tendering: an industry perspective. CRC for Construction Innovation, Brisbane.

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Abstract

The construction industry is categorised as being an information-intensive industry and described as one of the most important industries in any developed country, facing a period of rapid and unparalleled change (Industry Science Resources 1999) (Love P.E.D., Tucker S.N. et al. 1996). Project communications are becoming increasingly complex, with a growing need and fundamental drive to collaborate electronically at project level and beyond (Olesen K. and Myers M.D. 1999; Thorpe T. and Mead S. 2001; CITE 2003). Yet, the industry is also identified as having a considerable lack of knowledge and awareness about innovative information and communication technology (ICT) and web-based communication processes, systems and solutions which may prove beneficial in the procurement, delivery and life cycle of projects (NSW Government 1998; Kajewski S. and Weippert A. 2000). The Internet has debatably revolutionised the way in which information is stored, exchanged and viewed, opening new avenues for business, which only a decade ago were deemed almost inconceivable (DCITA 1998; IIB 2002). In an attempt to put these ‘new avenues of business’ into perspective, this report provides an overall ‘snapshot’ of current public and private construction industry sector opportunities and practices in the implementation and application of web-based ICT tools, systems and processes (e-Uptake). Research found that even with a reserved uptake, the construction industry and its participating organisations are making concerted efforts (fortunately with positive results) in taking up innovative forms of doing business via the internet, including e-Tendering (making it possible to manage the entire tender letting process electronically and online) (Anumba C.J. and Ruikar K. 2002; ITCBP 2003). Furthermore, Government (often a key client within the construction industry),and with its increased tendency to transact its business electronically, undoubtedly has an effect on how various private industry consultants, contractors, suppliers, etc. do business (Murray M. 2003) – by offering a wide range of (current and anticipated) e-facilities / services, including e-Tendering (Ecommerce 2002). Overall, doing business electronically is found to have a profound impact on the way today’s construction businesses operate - streamlining existing processes, with the growth in innovative tools, such as e-Tender, offering the construction industry new responsibilities and opportunities for all parties involved (ITCBP 2003). It is therefore important that these opportunities should be accessible to as many construction industry businesses as possible (The Construction Confederation 2001). Historically, there is a considerable exchange of information between various parties during a tendering process, where accuracy and efficiency of documentation is critical. Traditionally this process is either paper-based (involving large volumes of supporting tender documentation), or via a number of stand-alone, non-compatible computer systems, usually costly to both the client and contractor. As such, having a standard electronic exchange format that allows all parties involved in an electronic tender process to access one system only via the Internet, saves both time and money, eliminates transcription errors and increases speed of bid analysis (The Construction Confederation 2001). Supporting this research project’s aims and objectives, researchers set to determine today’s construction industry ‘current state-of-play’ in relation to e-Tendering opportunities. The report also provides brief introductions to several Australian and International e-Tender systems identified during this investigation. e-Tendering, in its simplest form, is described as the electronic publishing, communicating, accessing, receiving and submitting of all tender related information and documentation via the internet, thereby replacing the traditional paper-based tender processes, and achieving a more efficient and effective business process for all parties involved (NT Governement 2000; NT Government 2000; NSW Department of Commerce 2003; NSW Government 2003). Although most of the e-Tender websites investigated at the time, maintain their tendering processes and capabilities are ‘electronic’, research shows these ‘eTendering’ systems vary from being reasonably advanced to more ‘basic’ electronic tender notification and archiving services for various industry sectors. Research also indicates an e-Tender system should have a number of basic features and capabilities, including: • All tender documentation to be distributed via a secure web-based tender system – thereby avoiding the need for collating paperwork and couriers. • The client/purchaser should be able to upload a notice and/or invitation to tender onto the system. • Notification is sent out electronically (usually via email) for suppliers to download the information and return their responses electronically (online). • During the tender period, updates and queries are exchanged through the same e-Tender system. • The client/purchaser should only be able to access the tenders after the deadline has passed. • All tender related information is held in a central database, which should be easily searchable and fully audited, with all activities recorded. • It is essential that tender documents are not read or submitted by unauthorised parties. • Users of the e-Tender system are to be properly identified and registered via controlled access. In simple terms, security has to be as good as if not better than a manual tender process. Data is to be encrypted and users authenticated by means such as digital signatures, electronic certificates or smartcards. • All parties must be assured that no 'undetected' alterations can be made to any tender. • The tenderer should be able to amend the bid right up to the deadline – whilst the client/purchaser cannot obtain access until the submission deadline has passed. • The e-Tender system may also include features such as a database of service providers with spreadsheet-based pricing schedules, which can make it easier for a potential tenderer to electronically prepare and analyse a tender. Research indicates the efficiency of an e-Tender process is well supported internationally, with a significant number, yet similar, e-Tender benefits identified during this investigation. Both construction industry and Government participants generally agree that the implementation of an automated e-Tendering process or system enhances the overall quality, timeliness and cost-effectiveness of a tender process, and provides a more streamlined method of receiving, managing, and submitting tender documents than the traditional paper-based process. On the other hand, whilst there are undoubtedly many more barriers challenging the successful implementation and adoption of an e-Tendering system or process, researchers have also identified a range of challenges and perceptions that seem to hinder the uptake of this innovative approach to tendering electronically. A central concern seems to be that of security - when industry organisations have to use the Internet for electronic information transfer. As a result, when it comes to e-Tendering, industry participants insist these innovative tendering systems are developed to ensure the utmost security and integrity. Finally, if Australian organisations continue to explore the competitive ‘dynamics’ of the construction industry, without realising the current and future, trends and benefits of adopting innovative processes, such as e-Tendering, it will limit their globalising opportunities to expand into overseas markets and allow the continuation of international firms successfully entering local markets. As such, researchers believe increased knowledge, awareness and successful implementation of innovative systems and processes raises great expectations regarding their contribution towards ‘stimulating’ the globalisation of electronic procurement activities, and improving overall business and project performances throughout the construction industry sectors and overall marketplace (NSW Government 2002; Harty C. 2003; Murray M. 2003; Pietroforte R. 2003). Achieving the successful integration of an innovative e-Tender solution with an existing / traditional process can be a complex, and if not done correctly, could lead to failure (Bourn J. 2002).

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ID Code: 26873
Item Type: Report
Refereed: No
Keywords: CRC for Construction Innovation, Program C : Delivery Management of Built Assets , Project 2001-008-C : Project Team Integration: Communication, Coordination and Decision Support
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > CRC Construction Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2001 Icon.Net Pty Ltd
Copyright Statement: The Participants of the CRC for Construction Innovation have delegated authority to the CEO of the CRC to give Participants permission to publish material created by the CRC for Construction Innovation. This delegation is contained in Clause 30 of the Agreement for the Establishment and Operation of the Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation. The CEO of the CRC for Construction Innovation gives permission to the Queensland University of Technology to publish the papers/publications provided in the collection in QUT ePrints provided that the publications are published in full. Icon.Net Pty Ltd retains copyright to the publications. Any other usage is prohibited without the express permission of the CEO of the CRC. The CRC warrants that Icon.Net Pty Ltd holds copyright to all papers/reports/publications produced by the CRC for Construction Innovation.
Deposited On: 18 Aug 2009 23:25
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 13:57

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