Strategic Sourcing Tips and Tricks

Looking for additional resources for Strategic Sourcing? STAR agencies can access a variety of job aids, tools, and resources on STARConnection (STAR Connection > Resources > Finance and Procurement > Job Aids > Search for “Strategic Sourcing”). If you would like to share a Strategic Sourcing tip or trick you’ve learned, please email your ideas to Jessica Vieira. To receive additional Strategic Sourcing Tips & Tricks each month, subscribe to the State Bureau of Procurement Newsletter.

Please note that the information listed was accurate and up-to-date at the time of publication, however as STAR's developers are continuing to bring enhancements and updates to the Strategic Sourcing module, their continued accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

 

September/October 2019

Template Language Suggestion: At times, when responding to solicitations through eSupplier, bidders will answer bid factors and upload files in response to a solicitation, but will fail to click the “Submit” button and officially submit their response, which then leads to the question of whether the unofficial responses are allowed to be considered. To ensure procurement rules are being consistently and transparently followed, SBOP has recently added the following language to the RFB and RFP templates in the STAR Strategic Sourcing system:

RFB Template, Section 6.7, Submitting a Bid: Please note, Bidders must click “Submit” in the Wisconsin eSupplier Portal to have their Bid received and reviewed by DOA. Only clicking “Save” does not submit the Bid response; therefore, it shall not be received nor reviewed by DOA.

RFP Template, Section 2.4, Submitting the Proposal: Please note, Proposers must click “Submit” in the Wisconsin eSupplier Portal to have their Proposal received and reviewed by DOA. Only clicking “Save” does not submit the Proposal response; therefore, it shall not be received nor reviewed by DOA.

 

August 2019

Bidder Email Addresses: When sending Bidder Communications, such as clarification letters through the Strategic Sourcing module, pay close attention to the email addresses used by the bidders. It’s possible that the email address the bidder provided on the Bidder Required Form was different than the one they used to register with (which is the one that would automatically populate through the system). If the email addresses do not match, you can add the address provided on the Bidder Required Form by selecting the “Add Email” link in the “Bidders” box on the upper right side of the window. This function will allow you to add any email, not just an email that is attached to a Bidder ID.

 

June/July 2019

Announce Event Online: By marking the “Announce Event Online” checkbox, a sourcing manager can share information with bidders about an upcoming solicitation before the solicitation is open for responses. This action will only cause an announcement to be posted on the eSupplier Bidder homepage and will not trigger any automatic email notifications or VendorNet postings.

In order for the announcement to display, an “Available to Bidders” date and time must be entered. When posted on eSupplier, this date will be identified as the “Available (Target)” date. Once the designated date and time have passed, the announcement will no longer be visible, though a new date and time may be selected at any point.

In addition, the presence of NIGP codes will have a role in the visibility of the announcement. If the solicitation already has NIGP codes associated with it, the announcement will only be displayed to those individuals who are logged into eSupplier and have a matching NIGP code entered in their profile. If no NIGP code is associated with the solicitation, the announcement will be shown to users who are not logged into eSupplier or those who are logged in but who have not added any NIGP codes to their profile. Keep this in mind if you are attempting to view your own announcement but are not logged into eSupplier.

 

May 2019

Navigating in Fluid: After logging in to STAR Finance, you can change the set of tiles you see by selecting a different option from the dropdown menu at the top of your page. To access the page with the Strategic Sourcing tile, choose “Finance & Procurement Ops.” In addition, you may make this your homepage by clicking the icon with the three dots in the upper right corner of your screen and selecting "Personalize Homepage" from the dropdown list. Drag "Finance & Procurement Ops" to the top of the list (above FSCM Employee Self-Service, which is the default homepage) and click "Save."

Navigation for Internal Evaluators: To score a solicitation, an internal evaluator logs in to STAR Finance and selects the Strategic Sourcing tile from the Finance & Procurement Ops page. However, depending on their assigned roles, this tile may not appear for all evaluators (STAR is working on a solution for this). An alternative way to access the tile is to click the Compass Icon in the upper right corner of the page and use the following navigation: State of Wisconsin (STAR) > Strategic Sourcing > Scoring and Awarding > Score Event.

 

April 2019

Replace: When editing text in the Strategic Sourcing module, look for the Replace icon in the toolbar (to the right of the Magnifying Glass icon). This tool allows you to quickly find and replace a word or phrase, similar to Word, and can be especially helpful when updating template language.

 

February/March 2019

Event Q & A: Did you know you can download an Excel document containing the questions and answers collected and responded to within eSupplier? To do this, go to Event Q&A and click Update to view a question, then click the Document Generated box. Do this for each question you would like to include in the document. Once you have answered each of these questions, go to Download Event Documents (Main Menu > State of Wisconsin (STAR) > Strategic Sourcing > Enterprise Administration > Download Event Documents), enter your event number and click Search. Finally, select Event Q&A to create the Excel document.

In addition, checking the Post to Bidders checkbox on the Event Q&A page will create a Word document containing the questions that have been asked and answered through eSupplier and place it in the Supporting Documents section of eSupplier for any prospective bidder to read.

Styles of Bid Factors for RFPs: Many sourcing managers will choose to use a long text bid factor for questions in an RFP. While this continues to be a valid option, some users have begun preferring the attachment bid factor because it is more user-friendly for those submitting responses. When using this type, the proposer is able to format their response as they like since they are creating their document outside of the system, which often results in a response that is easier for the evaluators to read.

 

January 2019

New eSupplier FAQ Guide Available! The State Bureau of Procurement has published the eSupplier Frequently Asked Questions Guide. In this guide, users will find detailed registration instructions, as well as answers to questions commonly asked by eSupplier users. Topics include WAMS registration, eSupplier registration, NIGP codes and automatic notifications, bidder communication and submitting a response. The guide is available on the SBOP homepage (https://doa.wi.gov/procurement) and questions about this resource may be addressed to doawispro@wisconsin.gov.

Using Tables: When including tables in your solicitations, it’s recommended that you build the table within the Strategic Souring module. Attempting to copy a table from a Word document and paste it into the module may cause the table to appear too large when viewing it as a Word or PDF document. Alternatively, you may create your table in Word and take a picture of it using the Snipping tool, then paste the picture into your solicitation using the “Insert Image from File” button. This will allow bidders to view the table, but will not allow anyone to enter additional information into it.

 

December 2018

Strategic Sourcing Classes: Would you like to be notified when the next Strategic Sourcing in-person classes have been posted? Register for the “Strategic Sourcing Training Classes” course on the SBOP Training page and you’ll be contacted as soon as the next classes are available and will receive instructions for registering for them in ELM. Contact Jessica Vieira at (608) 266-5452 with any training questions.

 

November 2018

Registered Bidders List Queries: The following two queries can be especially useful when attempting to identify potential respondents to your solicitations. Access them by logging into PeopleSoft and navigating to Main Menu > Reporting Tools > Query > Query Viewer:

  • List of registered bidders by NIGP code: WI_SS_BIDDER_BY_NIGP

  • Complete list of registered bidders: WI_SS_ALL_REGISTERED_BIDDERS

 

October 2018

Tip for Evaluators: When an evaluator is reviewing a submitted response, it is often necessary for them to scroll down to see the full response. In some cases, evaluators have seen the benchmarking information and missed the submitted response because they did not scroll down far enough and have assigned scores of zero.

Uploading Files: While sourcing managers may upload many types of files to their Strategic Sourcing event and bidders may likewise upload a variety of file types with their response, not all file types are compatible. The following is a complete list of the file types that may currently be uploaded to Strategic Sourcing and eSupplier: .BMP, .CSV, .DOC, .DOCX, .GIF, .HTM, .HTML, .ICS, .IFF, .JPEG, .JPG, .LSM, .MHT, .MPP, .MSG, .ODT, .PDF, .PNG, .PPT, .PPTX, .PSD, .RTF, .TEXT, .TIF, .TIFF, .TXT, .VSD, .VSDX, .WKS, .WPS, .XLS, .XLSM, .XLSX, .XML, .XPS and .ZIP.

Shortcut to Sourcing Events: Did you know you can add shortcuts in PeopleSoft, including to Strategic Sourcing events you’re working on? To do this, navigate to your event’s homepage and click the “Add to Favorites” link on the upper right-hand side of the page. To access this page using the shortcut, click the “Favorites” menu on the upper left-hand side of page and click on your event.

 

September 2018

Adjust Spacing After Tables: Have you noticed large spaces following a table in your solicitation when viewing it as a PDF or Word document? To eliminate this wasted space, it is necessary to force the spaces to appear in the text editor. Select the table and right-click the mouse. By default, “Alignment” will be set to “Left.” By changing this option to “Not Set” and clicking “OK,” the spaces will appear in the text editor and will be able to be deleted.

Uploading a New Main Document: Once you have chosen to upload your main document (as opposed to creating one from scratch within the module or using a template), you may upload a new version of your main document without fear of losing any bid factors you have created. Simply click the “Upload Main Document” link at the top of the page and select the desired document. The name of the new document will now be listed next to the link and all bid factors will remain as they were. Be sure to click “Save” before leaving the page.

Access Archived Tips& Tricks: There is a wealth of information available on the SBOP website, including an archive of all past “Strategic Sourcing: Tips and Tricks” articles and current and archived editions of the SBOP newsletter.

 

August 2018

Using Different Bullet Styles: Sourcing managers may change the look of bullet points by first choosing the bullet list or the numerical list in any text box where bullets or numerical lists are available. After this selection, hover over the bullet or numbered list and right-click your mouse. Choose from the “Numbered List Properties” or “Bulleted List Properties” and select the desired bullet or number style from the dropdown menu.

Assisting Bidders: Sourcing managers are often contacted to answer a variety of bidder questions relating to the use of eSupplier (https://eSupplier.wi.gov). While bidders may always reach out to the SBOP help desk at doawispro@wisconsin.gov or the STAR Support team for assistance, it may be beneficial for sourcing managers to be aware of the following common bidder inquiries:

  1. I'm on the solicitation page, but I don't see the "Submit Online Response" button. Users must be registered and signed into eSupplier before this button will appear. Return to the eSupplier Bidder Homepage and sign in or complete the registration process, if needed.

  2. I’m trying to submit a response to a solicitation and I’ve uploaded the required documents using the “Upload Documents” button, but the “Submit” button is still greyed out. Before bidders can submit a response to a solicitation, they must respond to all required questions by clicking each of the green “Play” icons (a green circle with a “play” triangle in it) and providing a response. This will open a window that will display the bid factor and explain what they are required to do (e.g., upload a document or answer a question). Once they have completed the required task and have clicked “Save,” the green “Play” icon will change to a green checkmark. Note that only one document can be uploaded as a response to a bid factor and uploading a second document will overwrite the first one. Bidders may upload additional documents by clicking the “Upload Documents” button on the “Submit Online Response” page. Uploading all items using the “Upload Documents” button but failing to upload any documents as a response to the required question will not meet the requirement and will not allow the bidder to submit their response. Once they have provided responses to all required questions, the “Submit” button will become active and they can click it to submit their response.

  3. I’ve submitted a response, but I need to revise it. Bidders can revise their response at any time before the due date. To do this, they should click the “Submit Online Response” button for a response they’ve already submitted. They will be asked to confirm that they’d like to reopen the response and will need to click “Yes”. Note that bidders MUST click Submit before leaving this page, even if they don’t change anything – otherwise the system won’t recognize the previous response either! In addition, any file they upload in response to a bid factor will overwrite the existing file (as opposed to uploading additional files by clicking the “Upload File” button on the “Submit Online Response” page).

  4. Can my company submit multiple responses to a solicitation? To submit multiple responses, a company would need to have multiple accounts, each with a unique email address, WAMS username and Bidder ID. At this time, the system can only accept one response per account.

 

July 2018

Copying a Previous Solicitation: Instead of creating a solicitation from scratch, users may copy a previous event from the Event Workbench by clicking “Copy” in the column on the right. This will create an exact replica of the event, including the supporting documents, NIGP codes, bid factors and event text. While users will still need to update the event and review the document to ensure the most current version of each section is being used (e.g., Terms and Conditions), it is a great time-saving feature!

Timeout Limit Has Changed: The timeout for PeopleSoft has been reduced from 20 minutes to 15 minutes. Be sure to save frequently to avoid loss of work.

 

June 2018

Organizing Supporting Documents: The STAR team has recently added the ability for sourcing managers to choose the order in which supporting documents are displayed. On the “Supporting Documents” page, there is an editable field to the left of the document title. By default, all documents will be assigned an order of “1” and will display in the order they were added to the system. To change the order they are displayed in, sourcing managers can simply change the number, with a document assigned “1” displaying at the top of the list. If two or more documents are assigned the same number, they will display in the order they were added to the system.

Download Event Documents: (Navigation: Main Menu > State of Wisconsin (STAR) > Strategic Sourcing > Enterprise Administration > Download Event Documents) To download an event’s documents, navigate to the “Download Event Documents” window and enter the relevant event number to download groupings of documents (e.g., Bid Factors or NIGP Codes). As the event progresses, additional reports become active (e.g., the Event Q&A report will become after receiving and answering a question) and after the event has been awarded, sourcing managers are able to download all attachments at once.

Download a Single Bidder’s Response: STAR has also recently added the ability to download a single bidder’s response to an event, instead of having to download all event responses and sort through them manually. To access this feature, go to “Download Event Documents” and use the “Bidder ID” search field to identify the appropriate bidder. Attachments from the bidder will still need to be downloaded separately using the "Download All Attachments" section of the "Download Event Documents" page.

Event Q&A: Once the “Questions Close” date and time have passed, bidders are unable to submit general questions through eSupplier, however the system will still allow them to ask questions tied to specific sections of the solicitation through the "Submit Online Response" window. When a late question is received, the procurement specialist should review it on a case by case basis to decide whether the question merits an answer or amendment and whether a new Q&A period should be opened to accommodate it.

Bidder Communications: When bidders receive an email from the sourcing manager through the "Bidder Communication" tool, they receive an email from STARdonotreply@wisconsin.gov. The intention is that bidders would then sign into eSupplier to view the communication via the “My Communications” link on the Bidder Homepage. If the sourcing manager chose to allow responses to the communication, bidders would be able to respond to the email through this portal. However, if bidders attempt to respond to the initial email from STARdonotreply@wisconsin.gov, it will not be sent to the sourcing manager.

If sourcing managers require a bidder response to a communication, it may be beneficial to direct the bidders to use the “My Communications” link on the Bidder Homepage (see the Bidder Homepage Overview for a visual guide) or to include the email address they should respond to in the original message.

 

May 2018

Bid Factors That Don’t Apply to All Bidders: When creating a bid factor that only some bidders will need to respond to, be sure to uncheck the box labeled “Response Required.” If this box is left checked, all bidders will be required to provide a response before being allowed to submit a bid. For example, if the bid factor states, “If your company is bidding on Lot 1, attach a list of tests provided.” In this example, only bidders submitting a response for Lot 1 should attach a list. With “Response Required” checked, all bidders would need to attach a response to submit their bid.

Make Bid Factors Work Harder for You: When creating a solicitation, there may be several types of bid factors that would work for each question and some options can make it easier to review the bidders’ responses.

For example, instead of using "Yes/No," consider selecting "List." This type of bid factor offers several additional features at the bottom of the page, including "Pass/Fail" and "List Answer Type." Checking the "Pass/Fail" box allows you to indicate which answer in the list is the correct or preferred answer. Selecting "Multiple Answers" for the "List Answer Type" will allow you to indicate multiple correct answers. Later, when reviewing the bidders’ responses to this bid factor, the system will flag any responses that don’t match the correct response indicated, allowing you to easily see which responses will require careful review.

 

April 2018

Bidder Registration: When performing bidder outreach, encourage bidders to register in eSupplier. Registered bidders who have added NIGP codes to their account will receive automatic notifications for solicitations matching their selected NIGP codes. In addition, registered bidders have the ability to submit electronic responses within eSupplier. While bidders who are not registered in eSupplier can view all solicitations, they will not receive automatic notifications from the system and are not able to submit responses electronically.

Not sure how to walk new users through the registration in eSupplier? You can refer bidders to the user guides in the FAQ section of the eSupplier website, or you can share the following steps:

  1. Go to the eSupplier website. To register for free on eSupplier, companies should go to https://eSupplier.wi.gov.

  2. Register for a WAMS username and password. You can find a link to “Create your WAMS ID” below the sign-in button on eSupplier. Once you have completed the WAMS registration form, you will receive an email with a verification link. Click the link and enter the required information.

  3. Login to the eSupplier Portal for Bidders. Return to https://eSupplier.wi.gov and click the big blue “Enter Bidder Site” button on the right. Enter your WAMS username and password and sign in.

  4. Register in eSupplier. Click the “Register” button once you’ve logged into eSupplier. You will be asked to enter an email address. If your VendorNet account was active at the time of the transition to eSupplier, entering the same email address you used in VendorNet will bring over any NIGP codes you had in VendorNet to your new eSupplier profile. Fill out your company information in the eSupplier Registration Form. We recommend not using any autofill functions when completing this form, especially if using Chrome. Click “Save” before returning to the Bidder Homepage.

  5. Add NIGP Codes to your account to receive automatic notifications of solicitations. Once you’ve successfully completed your eSupplier registration, you will see your company information and Bidder ID number displayed on the Bidder Homepage. To the left of this information will be a link for “My NIGP Codes.” Click this link to add or edit the NIGP codes associated with your profile. These codes represent the services and commodity areas your company is interested in providing. You may add as many codes as is appropriate for your business. Once they’ve been saved, you will begin receiving automatic notifications by email for any solicitations issued by State agencies or the University of Wisconsin System campuses that match the codes saved to your profile.

Announce Event Online Feature: When using the “Announce Event Online” feature, the system will use the NIGP codes assigned to your event to filter the pre-announcement to the bidders with matching codes in their accounts. If you don’t have codes assigned to your event yet, everyone visiting eSupplier (including those who are not registered) will be able to see your pre-announcement.

Event Workbench: Don’t underestimate the usefulness of the Event Workbench (State of Wisconsin (STAR)> Strategic Sourcing > Event Workbench). There is a wealth of information available on this page, including:

  • The current status of the event

  • The availability date and response due date

  • Quick navigation to View History, Event Q&A and Scoring Results

  • Ability to copy an event, which will duplicate the framework and bid factors of a previous event

  • Ability to cancel an event

 

March 2018

Posting an Event & Announce Event Online Feature: Before posting an event, be sure to unclick the “Announce Event Online” box. Leaving this box checked will prevent your solicitation from appearing in the “Current Solicitations” section on eSupplier.

Event Bid Factors PDF: To download a PDF document with all bid factors for an event, go to Strategic Sourcing > Enterprise Administration > Download Event Documents, enter the event number and click “Search” and select “Event Bid Factors.” If you have access to Acrobat Pro, you can edit this file to turn it into a fillable form to use as an attachment for bidders who need to submit hard copy responses (you will need to click to unprotect the file before modifying it).

 

February 2018

Amending a Bid Factor: Consider this scenario: You must change a bid factor after receiving at least one response to a Strategic Sourcing solicitation. Revising a bid factor will erase any responses to that factor because the bidder hasn’t officially responded to the amended factor. You must notify all potential bidders of the amended bid factor through the Bidder Communication tool and advise that they must reenter the system to submit a new response to the updated bid factor.

 

January 2018

Complex RFPs: For more complex RFPs, you may choose to upload your main document instead of creating it within the tool. Remember to add at least one bid factor to your event so evaluators will have a place to enter a score in the system.

Definitions Table: When working with tables in the module, right-clicking within the table will allow you to delete or add additional rows. If you are unhappy with the formatting of the Definitions table, try adjusting the font size. Using a smaller font will use less space in the document without compromising the ability to read the information.

Using and Editing Template Bid Factors: To use a pre-made bid factor from a template, begin by unchecking the “Custom Bid Factor” box and search using the Bid Factor ID search. Once you’ve inserted the desired bid factor, if you would like to edit it, you will need to re-check the “Custom Bid Factor” box.

Display Order of Bid Factors: When adding multiple bid factors to a single section of your document, the bid factors are automatically labeled in numerical order. For example, if three bid factors are added to Section 4, the bid factors will appear in the document as 4(1), 4(2), and 4(3), just as expected. However, when “View as Bidder” is clicked, multiple bid factors entered in a single section will appear with the most recent bid factor first, meaning that 4(3) appears first, then 4(2) and 4(1). A current work-around until this is solved is to create your bid factors in the opposite order you’d like them to appear to the bidders.

Supporting Documents Order: A similar issue exists when adding additional supporting documents. Let’s say you’ve already uploaded two Supporting Documents, “Attachment A” and “Attachment C.” You decide to add an additional Supporting Document, “Attachment B,” and you’d like to place it between A and C. You click the plus sign at the end of the “Attachment A” row and enter the new document as you’d like it to appear. However, when you click “View as Bidder,” you notice that the documents are listed in the order you created them: “Attachment A” is first, “Attachment C” is second and “Attachment B” is last. To have your documents appear in the order you’d like, you will need to remove all attachments and enter them in the order you’d like them to appear.

And as Always - Save, Save, Save! Don’t lose your hard work because you get sidetracked by a phone call or have to step away for a moment and miss the time-out warning. Be sure to save often!

 

December 2017

Accessing Reports. To gain access to the reports available for your solicitation (including bidders’ list, NIGP codes used and a list of bid factors), users with the SS Manager role may use the following navigation within the Strategic Sourcing module: Main Menu > State of Wisconsin (STAR) > Strategic Sourcing > Enterprise Administration > Download Event Documents. Select your search criteria from the “Search by” dropdown menu, enter your search terms and click the “Search” button to generate a list of available reports.

Tracking Your Progress While Using Templates. When using the Enterprise RFB, RFP or Simplified Bid templates, the titles of each section on the Document Management page will all begin with “RFx_”. Instead of deleting this text from the titles immediately, only delete the text once you’ve fully completed each section. This will allow you to easily track which sections you’ve already edited and which ones you still need to do.

Page Formatting. When editing the sections of your document, you have the option of selecting different “Styles” (e.g., “Normal” or “Heading 1”) from the dropdown menu at the top of the window. By default, the page will be set to “Normal” which includes double-spacing. To reduce the amount of white space on each page, we suggest choosing “Normal DIV”, the single-spaced style at the very bottom of the dropdown menu. Keep in mind that if you use this style, you will also want to include a blank line at the end of your section or the next section will begin on the line immediately following your current section.