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Not All Manufacturers Are the Same. What to Look for in Manufacturing Bids

by Ben Vaught, Founder, and CEO of DemandStar

Not all manufacturers are the same, and selecting the right manufacturer can mean the difference between a successful project and one that’s full of headaches and frustration. While selecting the lowest bid can be an attractive option for the budget, government procurement agents can ensure that a project runs smoothly by confirming that the bid meets some crucial factors. Here are a few things to look for when reviewing manufacturing bids. 

Customer service and management
Confirm that the contractor has processes and staff in place to communicate project progress and answer any questions. The last thing you want to do is be waiting days (or weeks) for a call back from the manufacturer. It’s important that procurement agents have a responsive contact to manage the project and handle day-to-day inquiries and activities.

Quality control
A solid bid will include a quality control process. This will include inspecting materials that are ordered for the project all the way through the manufacturing process, testing initial output, and through the completion of final production. Some manufacturers leave this important line item out of the bid to come in at a lower price. Unfortunately, the government agency then needs to either take care of that, themselves or add it in after the fact, increasing the cost of the project. 

What’s the backup plan?
It’s highly unlikely that everything will go according to plan with the project. It’s just a fact of the manufacturing process and something for which the vendor should be prepared. Confirm that the vendor can handle any bumps in the road with minimal disturbance to the timeline and budget. A vendor who has a backup plan already in place will deliver on time and within cost constraints. One that is unprepared will be scrambling to handle any issues that arise, which can significantly and negatively impact results.

Strong supply chain
That tempting lower cost may be due to a long supply chain. Shipping materials slowly and from far away can mean they come at a reduced price point, but that also means the chances for delay or supply chain breakdown are increased. A shorter supply chain may cost more upfront but could provide other benefits as far as timeline and efficiency are concerned, saving money in the long run. This is why procurement is important in supply chain management.

Vendor verified
Remembering to look beyond the price tag and confirm that the vendor is able to deliver on all aspects of the contract and that they have these particularly important elements addressed in their bid, is the first step to ensuring successful project completion. Each manufacturing agreement is unique, so there are likely more factors that government procurement agents will want to consider when assessing the viability of a bid, but it’s a good place to start.

As a government procurement agent, what specific items do you look for in a manufacturing bid? 

About Ben Vaught:
Ben Vaught is president and CEO of DemandStar. He founded DemandStar as an independent company to continue growing our network of government buyers and suppliers. Previously, he was director of government initiatives at Onvia, a public sector business intelligence firm. Ben led multiple innovation and strategy efforts as senior advisor to the Washington state chief information officer and spent six years at Microsoft, where he incubated Microsoft Hololens®. Ben holds 39 U.S. patents in mixed reality and technology applications. In 2012, he managed U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene’s first congressional campaign. He holds an MBA from the University of Washington Foster School of Business and dual bachelor’s degrees in English and government from Georgetown University.