Logging into iSpec's dashboard allows you to configure all the spend analysis and other reports you need on a daily basis, as well as your favorite and recent projects.
Additionally your outstanding tasks will also all appear on the dashboard - whether it is a budget approval, bid evaluation, an open negotiation, clarification or deliverable that needs accepting. iSpec will not allow you to forget any task that you are responsible for. Apart from appearing on the dashboard, these reminders appear on the project screen as well as in the appropriate document where applicable.
Plus you will receive an email from the built-in notification system each morning in your inbox listing all your outstanding tasks - just in case you are not logged into the system.
Urgent items also result in a separate email immediately they become relevant.
iSpec has a master template library for storing templates for re-use.
The strength of the master library and template information is due to its “granularity”. In other words, each template or master “document” is managed at a “clause” level. Consequently, each clause, statement or requirement is a template in itself (from the section library).
For example, the contractual terms and conditions is not one single template. Rather the contract is a compilation of individual “template” terms; some of which may be modified to suit each specific tender’s requirements (for example, the term, scope etc.). The others are “locked down” or “secured” in order to uphold the organisation’s governance and risk management policies (for example indemnity, IPR and insurance) and are not able to be modified by the tender team.
Templates can also contain selectable items (options) which need to be selected during tender/contract preparation. This means these options are locked-down but the user can select which option(s) they require. During tender/contract preparation the user is forced to select the required options before the document can be published.
All master templates are made up of sections from the section library and many of these sections are shared by multiple documents.
For example the organisation might have various NDAs used for different purposes, but with most of the sections being identical and only a few sections differing. Documents or templates can be built by dragging and dropping these sections from the section library into a document.
Each section can be assigned to an owner to ensure that only the responsible person can update or approve changes to a section. Editable sections can be edited by anyone, but have to be approved by the section owners. Also if a section is changed, it will automatically be updated in all templates using it, thereby avoiding having to update multiple documents.
Notes can be added to sections in a template for various instructional or informative purposes.
These notes are only visible to selected internal users. For example in a technical specification instructions can be given on how to calculate certain requirements or which options relate should be selected for a specific type of project.
Variables can be inserted into templates which can then be used to quickly enter data into various sections of the document without having to edit it or search for all the places it needs to be updated.
This also allows "locked down" sections to be completed without editing the rest of the text.
Templates can be created in multiple languages and if the base language version changes, the owners/translators of the other language versions are sent an email to update their translations as required.
Until such time as the translations have been updated and approved, the templates using the changed sections cannot be used to generate new contracts.
iSpec allows users to create internal document references (between sections) that will automatically update if move around.
For example if you have a reference to Section 3.4.1 and you move that section to become Section 7.8, then the original reference text will automatically update to show Section 7.8. This ensures that there are no broken or incorrect references in your documents.
iSpec's role-based permission system can be configured to allow various groups or individuals special editing, approval and other rights within the system.
Each section can be assigned to an owner(s) and if any other person is allowed to edit it, the owner/negotiator/approver has to approve it before it can be signed or finalized.
This allows for either very tight control or a certain amount of flexibility depending on the organisations requirements.
Corporate styles for documents, tables, tables of contents, etc. can be setup and/or enforced.
This can even be applied to legacy documents or imported documents where iSpec will strip all old styles and replace them with the new corporate styles.
Word documents can be imported and become live iSpec documents with all the features and functions of iSpec.
At any time they can be exported back to Word or PDF.
PDF documents and images can be imported for storage and reference purposes only, but cannot be edited in iSpec at this time
It is often necessary to view two sections in a document at the same time while drafting a contract.
iSpec allows you to "freeze" one section in the right hand panel and then navigate to another part of the document and see both.
How often do you have to wait for a colleague or supplier to provide you with a document on a project? Working with Word documents and Excel spreadsheets for tenders is outdated.
With iSpec's online documents, multiple users can edit/collaborate on a document at the same time. All edits will be kept in the audit trail and also all approvals. Because everyone works online, there is a single point-of-truth and you are never working in the wrong or outdated version.
The fact that each section is agreed to separately means that it is much easier and quicker to work through a contract or specification without missing any changes. Also the acceptance of both parties on each section is recorded in the audit trail, so there can be no dispute as to "I missed that section" or "I did not agree to that change".
The prompt feature allows users to create multiple reminders/prompts for themselves or other users to follow up or perform some action on a document.
When adding a prompt, this will ensure that it will appear in the prompted users dashboard and can also be accompanied by an email if urgent.
iSpec has a highly customizable approval routing system.
A select number of team members are authorized to approve various elements and documents that have been prepared by the project team. A tender cannot be released and published until all of the elements and documents have been completed, approved and formally released to be published.
Additional approvals include, departmental publication approval, bid opening approval (pre-qualification, technical, commercial - as needed), budget approval and contract awarding approvals - amongst others.
The notification system in iSpec sends out emails during all phases of a tender to notify users of actions required of them. Whether it is to complete a tender document; approve publication; open bids; evaluate a response; respond to clarifications or negotiations; award a contract; or follow up on delivery milestones and so on.
Not only do users receive emails to remind them of their tasks, but every morning an email is sent to each user containing a list of outstanding tasks and these items also appear on the dashboard as a to-do list.
All vendor bid responses are done online in live iSpec documents although Word and Excel may be used, but is not best practice as these documents cannot be automatically compared during bid evaluations. Also iSpec's clarification features reduce the effort for both the vendor and the customer.
Tender clarifications are always a tedious exercise and generally requires all questions to be in by a certain date in order to allow the tendering team to collate them and respond. This often means that questions that arise after that date don't get answered and the vendors are left in the dark.
iSpec has an elegant solution to this. As a vendor reads through the tender document, a question arises in a certain section. The vendor then clicks the email icon and asks for clarification. This is sent as a normal email through iSpec, but a time and user stamped copy is kept IN THE DOCUMENT, attached to the section it relates to. The tendering team can just reply to the email and select whether to copy all vendors or only the one asking the question. The reply also gets captured by iSpec and stored in the document linked to the appropriate section.
This means you don't have to set any deadlines (apart from the tender closing date) for clarifications and you can respond to them as they come in. This also means that vendors get an immediate response to the questions and can continue preparing their bid without having to wait for all clarifications to be compiled and sent.
Users find this to be one of the most compelling features of the system.
A tenderer is provided with a unique access code for entry into the system enabling access to the appropriate tenders and can therefore commence immediately with on-line completion of the tender documentation and communicate with the tender team regarding any clarifications that may be deemed necessary. The organisation has the option (depending on the nature of the clarification/query received from a tenderer) of replying to all tenderers or the individual tenderer that raised the clarification. All fields/documents that require completion by the tenderer are “flagged” red in the tender. The flag turns black (neutral) when the tender information required has been populated in the required fields and in a format predetermined by the organisation. iSpec allows the tenderer to complete the required information in stages and at their convenience by automatically saving newly uploaded information each time iSpec is accessed. Best practice is to request byte sized responses to each requirement which allows for easy automated comparison of vendor responses. However, it is still possible to attach large documents such as drawings, pictures, documents and spreadsheets were required - although this will make bid evaluation more tedious.
Once the tender closes, the tender committee receives notifications and opens the bids and the commercial and technical evaluations (customizable) can be started either separately in order or simultaneously depending on the organisation's practices.
The online approach to iSpec tender management (no Word or Excel files to compare) makes tender evaluation far easier and more efficient for the project team. iSpec provides for immediate automated price/compliance evaluation and instantly identifies those aspects of non/partial compliance where further clarification is required before evaluation can be completed. Separate evaluation teams can be assigned for technical and commercial evaluation.
Evaluations can be structured to be a simple process or include more complex weighted-score evaluation criteria. Certain items can be scored automatically.
This is an area where, again, iSpec’s internal email / communication tools become material to the evaluation process.
Upon completion of all price affecting and non-price affecting clarifications with the tenderers, the organisation can make a final assessment of the price and remaining risk elements with the aim of selecting preferred tenderers and commencing negotiations.
During the bid evaluation phase of a tender, online collaboration/negotiations can take place until both parties are satisfied and each section of a contract has been agreed separately. Who changed and who accepted it is recorded for each section in the document - thus making dispute resolution a simple matter.
Where appropriate, elements of negotiation can be progressed on-line, and where necessary face-to-face meetings can be held to conclude outstanding matters. It is advisable, however, to conclude all matters in writing in iSpec so that a fully conformed agreement can be produced by iSpec for execution by the respective parties’ executives.
Batch mode acceptance is also possible to speed things up.
iSpec's Executive Summary feature allows the tendering committee to summarize the project for submission to senior management's perusal. It also gives them quick access to the evaluation and pricing comparison reports.
This allows senior management to save time in deciding on who to award the contract to without having to go through all the documentation and data.
iSpec’s contract management (post-tendering and contract award) key features are comprehensive. Whether the tender is for manufacture, construction, supply or services the basic principles remain the same. Also if it is a single contract awarded without going through a tendering process. Amendments and deviations are all managed within the system.
All deliverables as defined in the contract are tracked by delivery and or commissioning dates and vendor performance is recorded and reported against KPIs that have been set up in the system. Once the contract date has been agreed and captured in the system, all contract “milestone dates” and/or activity durations (e.g. delivery dates, commissioning dates, payment dates, lead times etc.) are set in the system or calculated (by the system) to actual calendar dates against the “baseline” contract date. This functionality allows for regular and automated reminders to be sent by the internal email system to both the vendors and internal users to promote timely delivery.
When deliveries are not made in accordance with the contractual obligations, and those obligations are “attached” to financial, or other, KPI’s, then iSpec will automatically calculate those financial adjustments needed to be made.
These may be in the form of liquidated damages, legally binding penalties, service level credits or other forms of financial rebates that are liable by the seller for non performance. It is then up to the client to determine whether these financial adjustments are effected:
1. Automatically in accordance with the rules set up in the system, and in accordance with their rights under the Agreement;
2. Manually after engaging with the supplier to satisfy itself that the adjustments are appropriate (as a function of relationship management);
3. Or not for whatever reason deemed appropriate at that time.
Typically large projects require the vendor to supply various performance and other bonds. When a global enterprise has multiple projects running, their financial exposure can be quite significant. It is therefor important to know what their exposure to certain financial institutions is and for how long.
iSpec allows you to track your exposure per project and globally by financial institution.
Project managers need to keep track of invoices and payments to vendors on their projects without having to access the financial system.
iSpec allows vendors to upload their invoices into the project and the project manager to track these approve them and track payments.
iSpec has a vendor master for self-registration (optional) and on-boarding of vendors. Once they have submitted the required information, the various departments can evaluate and approve vendors for the various procurement categories.
The combination of the KPIs and milestones set up in the system results in those key activities being tracked and reported against. This forms the basis of the vendor management and performance management capability of iSpec. This performance reporting allows for compliance to timeline, quantity and quality matters to be monitored and assessed for the appropriate action to be taken. Given that the “hold points” can be set up, or “triggered” at the supplier’s place of manufacture or supply, all non-compliances can be addressed at the earliest opportunity, thereby alleviating faulty supply and unnecessary re-work (and consequential time delay).
One of iSpec’s key features is the email facility included in the system. This allows collaboration both internally or with suppliers, external legal council and other parties not only during master document creation but also during tendering or contract negotiations or project management. This feature has a number of significant benefits, including:
- All collaboration during master document/template creation is recorded.
- All communication from the date tender/contract is established in iSpec until contract award through final delivery, is controlled and contained within iSpec. This includes both internal emails between internal team members and external emails with the tenderers and external parties;
- Compilation of documentation in the event that the agreement relies on the RFT and all prior representation;
- Ease of access for tender evaluation, clarifications and negotiations;
- Full traceability;
- Ease of audit and probity;
- Ease of retrieval in the event of discovery or Official Information Act requests
iSpec has a comprehensive audit trail. All edits for example are stored in the audit trail for retrieval and comparison at a later date.
Every user's access to a document or section or other functions in the system are recorded and can be retrieved in the user log. This allows for accountability and auditing of all actions.