Since ADVANCE™ has been added to the Commerce Decisions suite of software solutions, I’ve been asked many questions about what it can do, what it can’t do, what it could do and what it definitely shouldn’t do. Here are some of the typical examples I come across.
Q: Can ADVANCE™ be used to model a bid being evaluated in AWARD®?
A: Yes. If AWARD® is being used as the portal for submitting your bid response, you can download a configuration file which can then be uploaded into ADVANCE™. The configuration file includes the documents published by the Authority, the question set, weights, and marking scheme, and the Evidence Item placeholders for your response. Alternatively, if the configuration file isn’t made available to you, the configuration can be replicated manually. Replicating the Evaluation model in ADVANCE™ gives you greater confidence that your bid is presented in the best way for the evaluators and that your self-scoring is carried out in the same way as the Authority will score.
Q: Does ADVANCE™ score our bid in the same way as AWARD® does?
A: No (and Yes). ADVANCE™ (as is the case with AWARD®) doesn’t score your bid itself. It does, however, present your bid to your internal reviewers in exactly the same way as AWARD® does to the Authority evaluators, enabling you to score it in the same way as the Authority. It also calculates your overall score in the same way as the Authority’s AWARD® system. This helps you ensure that you focus these key activities around the way that the Authority will generate overall scores.
Q: Can a bid be submitted to AWARD® directly from ADVANCE™?
A: Again, No (and Yes). Whilst ADVANCE™ is built on the same software and hardware platform, and even hosted in the same physical space as AWARD®, there is a purposeful ‘air gap’ between the two systems. ADVANCE™ does however, allow you to upload your responses to it, and attach the various documents to the correct questions before exporting a file which can be imported into AWARD®. Uploading your response into ADVANCE™ helps you ensure that the correct documents are attached to the right questions (using the reporting engine) and check that your bid is presented to the Authority evaluators in the way you want it to be.
Q: Is ADVANCE™ only of use on a bid that is being submitted to AWARD®?
A: No. ADVANCE™ can be used to model and score any bid, regardless of whether AWARD® is being used by the Authority as the evaluation tool. ADVANCE™ can be configured manually to replicate the question structure, weightings, and scoring mechanism for any bidding opportunity so that you focus these key aspects around the way that the Authority will generate overall scores.
Q: Can ADVANCE™ be used to compare different potential solutions and determine which should be submitted?
A: Yes. The ADVANCE™ Position to Win module allows you to model different scenarios, with varying quality/technical scores and prices to determine which would score best. ADVANCE™ supports the major MEAT (Most Economical Advantageous Tender) methodologies and calculates overall scores in the same way as AWARD®. This approach allows you to fully understand the trade-off between quality/technical scoring and your price and focus on the solution that gives the highest pWin%.
Q: Can ADVANCE™ be used to model competitor solutions and score them against our own solution?
A: Yes. The ADVANCE™ Position to Win module allows you to model competitor solutions as well as your own. Once you have determined which of your own variant solutions is the best (highest overall score), you can model your competitors’ solutions (including variants) to predict the competition outcome and analyse how you can win. Arming yourself with this analysis can pave the way to smoother transition through your various internal governance processes.
Q: Can ADVANCE™ be used to raise clarifications to an Authority using AWARD®?
A: No. Although the ADVANCE™ system can be used to manage clarifications, allowing Authors or Reviewers to raise potential clarifications that can then be formally raised on the Authority’s AWARD® system. ADVANCE™ can also be used to maintain an overall view of all clarifications raised by bidders and messages can be sent by the Opportunity Manager to the rest of the Bid Team on ADVANCE™. Whilst most organisations keep an overall record of the clarifications raised (either by themselves or competitors), they are often not immediately accessible to Authors/Reviewers. This means some of the nuances within the clarifications could be missed at vital stages of the bid response preparation. ADVANCE™ ensures that all the relevant information is presented to all members of the bid production team when they need it.