New businesses often face a sink or swim situation. Forced to tread in competitive and cutthroat markets, the proverbial “life vest” is the ability to source real and relevant investors. Unfortunately, the waters are murky.
OMX, a Canadian technology SME, is hoping to give these new businesses buoyancy. The company recently announced the launch of an RFP (Request For Proposal) engine that will filter opportunities and allow government contractors to source the most qualified suppliers.
“It’s a much more complicated version of a supplier receiving an email from a prime with an RFP attached asking a supplier to respond,” said OMX President, Nicole Verkindt. “The benefits are that an OEM can load in their requirements, their RFQs, RFPs, specifically what they’re looking to purchase and procure, and the system is smart enough to send out those opportunities to companies that match.”
To get started, buyers create a set of criteria that their suppliers must meet. The most basic profile needs only a title, an expiry date and a description of what they are looking to source. From there, companies can choose to broaden or narrow their request with constraints.
Once completed, the request is sent directly to all companies that match — and with over 2,500 active SMEs and 46,000 profiles, opportunities are abundant.
“It will make you more competitive by reducing your supply chain costs,” Verkindt explained. “Most defense companies tend to be system integrators, which means most of their IP (Intellectual Property) is in their supply chain, in their ability to source effectively. There’s a lot of money on the table there, but by using a simple tool, we’re the E-Bay of offsets.”
This competition, Verkindt anticipates, will make contractors more accountable to the Crown. Similar to government processes, the engine is founded on fair and transparent procurement from primes.
The platform is a breakthrough for the defense sector. To create niche specific features for defense, OMX studied preexisting RFP engines in other sectors. By implementing the best data analytics and mapping practices from applications like LinkedIn, Salesforce and QuickBooks, the RFP engine is a game changer.
Advancements in the defense sector are long overdue. Previously, IRB plans were evaluated in a pass/fail system. Baseline criteria and limited feedback meant a lack of competition. Now, thorough evaluation is fueling higher quality partnerships.
Particularly useful to these partnerships is the messaging and document sharing feature.
“When you receive that RFP or RFQ, you have the true opportunity to respond, and you can get very specific about what you’re going to offer a company,” says Verkindt. “It’s exactly what all companies want. They want an opportunity to bid, to respond.”
Because the platform is web-based, companies can communicate internally as well. For large companies spread over different countries and time zones, this means data and knowledge sharing can be facilitated under a single roof.
Beyond exposure and communication, OMX offers tracking and analytic tools that create a sort of company “footprint”. Through data measurement and the creation of infographics, the engine can calculate a company’s contribution to the Canadian economy — an asset that government is already beginning to expect.
As more and more companies join the platform, it is clear that those in the defense sector will have to adapt to survive. Already, OMX is looking to the future for further innovations.
“We are constantly growing,” Verkindt says. “We’re making investments to continue to grow our supply chain management features, so really focusing on direct, real business to business opportunities in our marketplace.
“Lastly, we’re doing a lot of work now on economic impact studies, from past activities fulfilling government contracts [to] future proposals. We’re estimating the actual economic impacts from certain activities and tracking it real-time.”
By the end of 2015, OMX anticipates launching the engine in another major country, where, Verkindt predicts, usage will be high.
The importance of an RFP engine in today and tomorrow’s industry is obvious. The tides of the industry are changing. For those testing the waters, it’s a simple matter of learning to swim, or being washed away altogether.