Seattle Gains Efficiencies in  Decentralized Construction Bidding

Procurement Portal Helps City Planners Award Contracts Totaling USD 500 Million over a Three-year Period

Manual Processes Create Bottleneck

The City of Seattle is one of the 20 largest cities in the nation and oversees hundreds of millions of dollars in public works projects every year. Prior to implementing Bentley procurement software in 2001, the city followed a manual process with little oversight and high document management costs. The search for procurement software began at a time when budgets were tightening across the nation and the City of Seattle needed to see an immediate return on investment.

City planners were looking for software that maintained consistency across departments, yet gave each department a level of autonomy. All departments—including Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle Power and Light, and the Seattle Department of Transportation—manage separate budgets, administrative staff, and expertise relative to their varied construction projects.

Centralized Procurement Portal Removes Administration Burdens

The City of Seattle chose Bentley procurement software to deploy its supplier management, sourcing, and bidding software across the organization. The application simultaneously allows for autonomy and increased oversight.

More than 140 city employees participate in the bid process as project managers, bid evaluators, and bid administrators, and all have data permission levels relevant to their bid roles and responsibilities. Each department manages its own bids, while the Department of Finance and Administration Services (FAS) provides oversight to ensure standardization and accuracy. Self-service, online vendor registration shifted the responsibility of maintaining contact information from the administrative staff to the vendors.

With unlimited online document storage for each bid, the City of Seattle eliminated document management costs including printing and distributing expensive plan sets. Registered vendors now have instant access to planholder lists, documents, and clarifications. In addition to electronic copies, they can place online orders for hardcopy plans to be printed by a local reprographics firm.

Transparency Propels ROI

With Bentley procurement software, the City of Seattle found immediate ROI through decreased administrative and document management costs. Replacing manual tasks with automated processes reduced bid management time an estimated 50-70 percent. Each department maintained its autonomy, and the overall process became much more consistent and transparent.

“There is no way we would be able to do this with a manual system,” stated Jason Edens, senior program administrator at the City of Seattle. Departments can now access a growing pool of more than 7,000 qualified vendors and see a steady increase in bid competition. From 2013 to 2016, the City of Seattle awarded contracts totaling half a billion dollars through their procurement portal.