What happens when you contact a software provider for a quote?

If you’re purchasing a government SaaS product, you should expect to speak with a vendor a few times. At first, they will likely ask a few high level questions to confirm there is a place to work together. At ReCollect, you should expect your next call to be with an account representative. There, you’ll have a conversation about your goals, measures of success and best practices.

Before you get a quote, we suggest you collect as much information as you can about our timeline, budget, and Internal approval process I.e. What is it you need to do internally?

This is important information to help your vendor guide you to the optimal solutions, and ultimately help you meet goals in the most efficient way possible.

In our experience, organizations either buy directly with their department budget, use a competitive bid, or they use cooperative purchasing. We recommend you share information about your typical procurement process early in the conversation.

How To Buy Software for Government


The Efficient Choice: Purchase Directly


Once your due diligence has been completed, buying a product directly is the most efficient way to purchase. This depends, though, on the rules of your organization. All you need to purchase directly is your credit card or purchase order, or request our standard service agreement designed to reflect the contingencies of SaaS.

The Second Most Efficient Choice: Purchase using Cooperative Purchasing


Competitive bids are difficult for individual governments. They take a lot of time, and the knowledge required to build one that makes sense takes a lot of background research. So, how best can you best buy software products via a competitive bid? Cooperative purchasing. We highly recommend it for the following reason:

With cooperative purchasing, government departments can buy high quality products quickly and easily.

Some vendors, like ReCollect, are National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) Awarded Vendors. This means that government agencies can procure products produced by these vendors without creating their own Request for Proposal. Instead, they can piggyback on this international joint procurement vehicle to purchase more quickly, affordably, and easily.

The NJPA functions as its own lead agency, but is a government entity. NJPA staff are public employees, because the National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA) is a government agency; its publicly elected board awards contracts.

How does NJPA work?


NJPA requests proposals on behalf of 50,000 government, education, and non-profit members, and they have high standards. Members have the choice of high quality equipment, products, and services from nearly 200 national world-class vendors.

Because the NJPA represents so many organizations to vendors, they also require preferential pricing. This helps the NJPA provide competitive products and services to their membership, and thus helps their membership grow. Their nationally-leveraged volume pricing works for vendors and members alike, all of whom benefit from NJPA procurement advantages.

Contracts competitively solicited on your behalf


Lower prices are just one benefit to working with NJPA. Members find that procuring via NJPA satisfies formal contracting processes. From member to member, this system avoids duplication of RFP work and keeps government procurement efficient. This process also eliminates low-bid, low-quality issues, and reduces vendor protests.

What is NJPA Membership?


Despite its long name, the National Joint Powers Alliance is simple: the NJPA helps other governments piggyback on their nationally-sourced RFP’s. What does that mean? It means that the NJPA, being a government agency themselves, can provide quick and easy procurement for members – other governments, education agencies, and nonprofits that sign up to be part of their membership, for free.

Or, if that doesn’t work, you can…

Purchase Using a Sole Source Agreement


If you want to procure using a sole source agreement, your vendor can help highlight unique features of the product. This helps to improve your application for sole source justification. Your requirements and degree of required rigour will be unique to your organization. Depending, this can be a lot of work, but not as much as hosting your own competitive bid…

Host a Competitive Process Purchase


In absence of purchasing more efficiently, governmental organizations will often use a competitive process to source bids. This is usually called a Request for Proposals, Request for Quotes, or a Three Quote Scenario. This way they can call for quotes or proposals from vendors within a similar field.

This process is a lot of work for all sides, but vendors will often offer to take a consultative approach to developing the RFP or RFQ. This includes building a business case for the required product, and listing the required features the product must have. It also includes any limitations or stipulations that your department or organization might have regarding any product or process they work with. Some governments have local or state business licensing or registration requirements, or insurance coverage and certifications they need to see.

The competitive bid process can take a lot of time. If you’re hoping to get a short launch date, the RFP/RFQ process might not be right for you. Otherwise, your software vendor will be happy to help you.

Synopsis


We recommend sourcing as efficiently as possible depending on your situation. If you can’t purchase directly, it’s a good idea to check if your organization is a member of NJPA. The NJPA is not the only cooperative purchasing vehicle, but it is the only government body that does offers it. The next best thing is to try to use a sole source agreement. If all else fails, a vendor can usually help you through the RFP process to make it as painless as possible.