Tender Portal for BLS AG
The BLS procurement department required a fresh solution for automating the tendering process. The former Excel VBA tool could no longer fulfill their needs after transitioning to SharePoint Online. Through the new solution, the client aimed not just to substitute the previous tool, but also to streamline their procedures, enhancing the overall efficiency of the tendering process.
BLS AG is a Swiss railroad company based in Bern. With over 3000 employees, BLS operates an extensive rail network in the cantons of Bern, Valais and Solothurn. Its most important lines include the Lötschbergbahn and the RegioExpress Bern-Neuchâtel. It also provides shipping services on Lakes Thun and Brienz.
The BLS procurement department was looking for a solution to automate the tendering process. The previous Excel VBA tool no longer met the requirements, as the company had switched to SharePoint Online and the migration to the new platform proved to be too complex. In addition, further functions were needed to standardize the approval processes and make the entire tendering process more efficient.
Solution: AgilePoint and SharePoint Integration
Hence, the client enlisted the expertise of 1stQuad to develop a novel tender platform. Collaboratively, we replaced the former Excel VBA tool with a platform built upon AgilePoint and SharePoint. AgilePoint empowered adaptable automation of business processes and seamlessly integrated with SharePoint Online – a perfect alignment with the procurement department's requisites.
The new solution automates the entire tendering process, establishing lucid guidelines and roles, culminating in a methodical and transparent process. Here are some of the central functionalities and activities facilitated by this solution:
Tender management: Users can generate new tenders, modify existing ones, and monitor the status of each tender.
Automation of recurrent processes: This encompasses creating SharePoint pages and document repositories for tenders, populating templates with pertinent data, and overseeing approval procedures.
Integration of templates and standardized structures: This permits a uniform and organized approach to all tenders, fostering collaboration and heightening efficiency.
Direct real-time communication: Staff can exchange messages and share files.
Central document access: All relevant documents are accessible centrally, allowing efficient information sharing and collaboration.
In the portal, employees can review tenders for which they are accountable and efficiently fulfill the essential tasks within the procurement process.
By employing the PnP Modern Search solution, we integrated a search feature that enables employees to swiftly locate the required documents. Users can employ filters for date, tender type, or responsible department to refine their search results. Moreover, they can access prior projects and documents via the archive of completed tenders. The search functionality also offers suggested terms as they type, enhancing efficiency and minimizing typing errors.
The solution was realized through the utilization of 16 AgilePoint Apps, three SharePoint Online Site Collections, and Microsoft Teams Channels.
The AgilePoint apps comprehensively address all essential tender processes, encompassing the initiation of new tenders, modifications to existing ones, various stages of release, and compliance checks. These apps also generate acceptance and rejection letters for tender participants.
SharePoint Site Collections are employed for managing tenders, document templates, and archiving purposes. They also house metadata utilized by AgilePoint to propel workflows and customize document repositories. This ensures employees can edit document templates without affecting tenders.
Microsoft Teams is harnessed to enhance communication and collaboration among project stakeholders. Within MS Teams channels, project teams, tender custodians, and other stakeholders can engage in direct communication and centrally store pertinent files.
Thanks to the new solution, BLS can now oversee and manage all procurement transactions through a central database. This has led to a notable enhancement in efficiency, extending even to small procurement transactions which are now under better control. The standardized structure and utilization of foundational templates have simplified work for all parties and fostered improved collaboration. The digitization of approval processes has introduced clear guidelines and responsibilities, culminating in a well-organized and transparent process.
Furthermore, the mobile functionality of SharePoint and AgilePoint enables tracking, initiation, and approval of procurement processes on-the-go, amplifying BLS's agility and responsiveness.
Thanks to the uniform structuring and basic templates, our employees, even more experienced ones, navigate through the tenders with ease and find everything they need. This makes the tendering process more efficient for our customers and facilitates collaboration with BLS. This innovation allows us to work faster and more effectively.
Silvio Gasparini, Team Leader
Strategic Procurement at BLS