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At our annual AWARD® User Group last week, I had the pleasure of introducing our new product platform, AWARD® 6.  It was a very proud moment for the entire company. We have been working hard over the last 12 months to develop a product that builds on AWARD’s current level of functionality and continues to support our customers’ requirements both in the UK and internationally.  The new platform will enable us to develop even greater depth and breadth of functionality, ensuring AWARD® continues to benefit our customers long into the future.  I am pleased to say that AWARD® 6 was met with great excitement, positive comments and nods throughout the room – definitely quite a buzz. 2015 promises to be an exciting year as we start to roll out AWARD® to our customers, both new and old! 

The day wasn’t all about AWARD® 6 though; we had an agenda packed full with very informative presentations from both our clients and our staff.  Wendy Wates, our MD opened the day, welcoming our customers to our new offices. Wendy outlined some of our recent successes as well as providing some insights into our plans for growth, both in the UK and internationally, with existing customers and new.

Pat Patel from Transport for London kicked off the client presentations, focusing on some of the lessons learnt from one of the many large strategic procurements run by TfL. AWARD® users since 2006, TfL have extensive experience of using the solution. Two points made by Pat that really caught my attention were his feelings on the importance of early planning and also of researching the right marketplace and warming them up for an upcoming tender opportunity.  With today’s pressures this could easily be an area that gets over looked despite its fundamental significance to the success of a procurement. 

Peter Marshall, our Professional Services Director, reflected a similar sentiment on the importance of early planning – “putting time in up front will pay dividends in the long run”. Peter was talking about Commerce Decisions “Relative Value of Money” (RVfM) methodology and the importance of truly understanding the effect of scoring methods on procurement outcomes from the outset.  Commonly-used scoring schemes can all too often have unanticipated effects – Peter  discussed how the application of RVfM ensures that projects get the best value outcomes 

The day continued with Phil Tolan’s (NHS Yorkshire and Humber Commissioning Support) session, highlighting the benefits that AWARD® delivers to his geographically dispersed teams by enabling collaboration from team members across a wide area.  Our cloud solution brings the teams together securely – in the preparation, evaluation and negotiation processes of their procurements.

The afternoon brought an agenda packed full with more presentations from people with different perspectives and experiences.  Nicola Bramwell, from Apsiz Services touched on the importance of embracing technology to move procurement forward and to benefit from analysis and visibility across an organisation. The room was then treated to a bidder’s perspective on procurement.  It was fascinating to hear from Anthony Jones of Imtech Marine Ltd, who has a long history of bidding into the global naval and marine sectors. Anthony delivered a few recommendations for public sector procurement improvement, and outlined how Imtech has benefited from Commerce Decisions bid support services. Sharon Moore and Brian Williams from Skills Funding Agency (SFA) described how they use AWARD® to manage a very large number of submissions, evaluators and documents – all often within with complex Lots.  They’ve been using AWARD® since 2008 but within the last 12-18 months they have increased the services they receive from Commerce Decisions to really push what they can achieve from their use of the solution.  Sharon also made a point of highlighting the number of audits her organisation goes through, both from internal and external auditors. She described how AWARD® assists in quickly supplying all the key information required for a successful audit. Clearly a huge benefit to SFA, considering the number of evaluators, bidders and tenders they undertake each year!

Our own Richard Tottman and Matt Charlton delivered informative sessions on EU procurement regulations and ExpertAssist tips repectively. Sales Director, Gavin Shepheard, wrapped up the day with a brief review of the sourcing tools market and where AWARD® fits, finishing by extending our thanks to all the speakers and attendees. The second day of the User Group continued on with two well attended training courses – a session on AWARD® templates as well as our established and popular “Principles of Tender Evaluation” course delivered by Andy White.

Throughout the day we received many positive comments on AWARD® 6. What was also very encouraging was our customers continuing to feed back ideas for future features. These will be added into our roadmap – AWARD® 6, as always, will continue to address our customers’ evolving needs.

All in all a very successful couple of days! 

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