Assign Contract Winners More Quickly Using Big Data, AI, & Cloud
Some federal agencies are taking huge but viable shortcuts throughout their procurement process. Nothing illegal or non-compliant, of course. It’s all about the latest tech.
Along with the move to cloud software, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) are transforming the fundamental ways in which agencies run procurements and award contracts—from source-selection planning to final award. And nearly every phase in between.
These technologies aren’t without error; issues with AI processes are especially tough to find and fix. Even so, this new wave of technology seems well on its way to reshaping the terrain of federal contracting. (3)
Here are six ways new technologies are taking the place of old processes:
- Speed up award cycles through AI-based cycle time prediction & renewals
Contracts are the lifeblood of many industry organizations. And efficiently bidding on, winning, and executing contracts is paramount for maximizing profit margins.
But streamlining proposals can financially benefit the government, too. Specifically, agencies can enhance efficiencies by automating contract management and award processes.
For example, you can now leverage AI to reduce the time needed to reach contract signature phase. This is done by predicting cycle times, based on the timeframes required by similar past agreements.
You can also compare predicted cycle times using alternate contract clauses in your RFP language—basically, you’re comparing and contrasting verbiage for the sake of quick understanding.
Embedding the most fluid, understandable language in contracts—and keeping a knowledge repository of this verbiage—gives valuable time back to your agency staff, allowing more space to strategize and create, instead of manually awarding contracts.
Not only can AI now help an agency approve the best contract candidate more quickly through clearer language, but it can also automate contract renewals.
This is a double win: the agency significantly streamlines its processes and greatly increases its potential for profitability, by taking the legwork out of awarding renewals. May the best contractor candidate repeatedly win.
- Automate the enforcement of yearly contractual pricing increases
Dilute your agency’s potential revenue loss and conserve taxpayer money by taking advantage of AI’s power to automate the enforcement of yearly contractual pricing increases.
Typically, pricing structures are consistent and predictable enough to be able to forecast these increases year over year, based on past behavior. AI can automate the entire process, with the exception of anticipating pricing increases for unpredictable costs. Manual intervention, though cumbersome, may still be necessary in these cases.
If automated through AI, other contract-related functions can significantly reduce government spending. These may include the archiving of contracts, reviews, audits, and FAR clauses, as well as the approval and search for contract-related task orders.
- Identify the best deal terms through AI-based intelligent risk
AI is proving to be effective at managing and mitigating risk. For example, by automatically comparing negotiated wording in proposals with agreement templates, AI can locate key terms and topics in contracts that create financial risks for an agency. Then it can quantify and, if necessary, eliminate those risks by negotiating rewrites in a potentially award-winning proposal—or awarding to another candidate.
“Clause recommendation” is another benefit of AI. Agencies can increase the productivity of their Legal departments by automating alternate word choice and even replacement paragraph suggestions in a proposal. This streamlines contractor negotiation time, reduces agency risk, and accelerates the final candidate award.
Also, smart third-party paper automation technology—once again, AI—empowers agencies to automatically map business terms in a third-party document to its Legal department’s playbooks, allowing contract managers to change out language, reconcile drafts, and confirm approval—as if they had originally created the improved document. (1)
- Automate objectivity & required agency & contractor diversity thresholds when determining contract winners
To put it bluntly, AI can determine contract awards with more diversity and objectivity—and with less bias—than humans ever could.
AI can also help oversee and mandate vendor obligations, such as meeting minority staffing thresholds. This includes making more restrictive contracting stipulations easier for diversity vendors to navigate.
For example, AI can determine if an agency is tracking favorable progress towards percentage of awards allocated to women-owned businesses.
Until now, most agencies haven’t had a way to track that capability. They do now.
Using AI, agencies can track their own performance threshold—as well as their contractors’ performance in hiring employees and subcontractors—through the lens of diversity converged with the lens of price. (1)
While these technology applications can benefit contractors through more data-driven selection and more expedient awards, they can also mean increased accountability on the part of award recipients, should an audit take place. (3)
- Embrace cloud software platforms that eliminate re-entry of legacy proposal data & speed up pricing analysis
Soon to be available in the cloud, software platforms like ProPricer stealthily preserve a contractor’s pricing from proposal to proposal. The platform saves detailed historic pricing data for reuse and future reporting, which means contractor pricing teams can develop new cost proposals faster, by tapping into the data and rationale behind previously successful proposals.
On the agency side, you can choose from dozens of report formats to visualize data, or design your own to present just the data required. Quickly run reports to compare multiple bids, or view objective and negotiation positions against a contractor's original proposal.
If both contractor and agency use ProPricer, formatted files contain everything needed to perform accurate, full cost analyses. Verify and audit pricing logic, rates, estimates, and costs—all within an hour of your agency receiving a proposal. Boom. We have a winner. (2)
Request a demo of ProPricer Government Edition here
- Replace your manual award-fee, procurement, & supply chain activities altogether
AI-based automation may soon make manual contract administration activities obsolete.
Agencies at every level can now automate a critical group of contractor award activities: the GSA’s schedules, the blanket purchase agreements, indefinite deliveries and quantities, and the acquisition contracts involved.
AI is already eliminating some tasks altogether, such as manual interpretation of which purchase orders fall under a blanket agreement and which don’t, significantly speeding up contract cycle time. (1)
These innovations can be especially relevant for big-ticket contracts like GSA multiple award schedules and Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACS).
It’s ironic. While tech advancements will undoubtedly accelerate the award process, they may concurrently have questionable financial impacts on contractors—if AI errors go unresolved. (3)
Before investing in the technology, talk to at least three vendors and make sure the one you select has make-goods and guarantees in place.
- Federal News Network: How automation, AI can improve government contracting
- ProPricer website
- JDSupra Article: 5 Ways Big Data & Artificial Intelligence Could Change the Landscape of Government Contracting