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Know your customer

You increase your chances of success when you understand how your customer buys things. The procurement process for the State of Maryland is governed by statues and executed through regulations and policies. The Maryland Procurement Manual is available online for public view on the eMaryland Marketplace Advantage website (https://procurement.maryland.gov/maryland-procurement-manual-1-introduction-and-general-overview/).

Here’s an overview of the process for Invitation for Bids (IFB) and Request for Proposals (RFP).

THE PLANNING PHASE

1. Need Identification
Identify what goods or services are to be purchased.

Research and answer questions such as:

  • Are there any exemptions?
  • Is a Request for Information (RFI) needed?
  • What does market research show for cost estimates, potential resources, latest innovations, etc.?
  • What contract type will be used?

2. Pre-Solicitation
Determine the best method to obtain the identified goods or services.

Research and answer the following questions:

  • Are there State resources available?
  • Are there State contracts available?
  • Are Preferred Providers available?
  • Are there certified small businesses available?

Obtaining fund certification.
Address delegated purchasing authority.
Select the procurement method.

Plan the solicitation

  • Establish the timelines
  • Select the team

3. Solicitation Preparation – Draft the solicitation.

  • Create the scope of work or statement of need
  • Identify minimum qualifications and requirements
  • Utilize Contract Performance Tools
  • Determine if third party consultants are needed
  • Establish socioeconomic goals
  • Finalize documents for internal and external administrative review and approval

THE PROCURING PHASE
1. Solicitation

  • Public Advertisement and Notice (Posted on eMaryland Marketplace Advantage, eMMA, if value is estimated to be over $15,000)
  • Pre-bid/Proposal Conference
  • Communication between the Procurement Officer and Vendors
  • Amendments to the solicitation
  • Receiving vendors’ responses – bids or proposals.

2. Review / Evaluation Process – Opening vendor responses

  • Public Bid Opening for IFBs
  • Conduct initial reviews of bids/proposals
  • Technical Proposal Evaluations for RFPs, including cures, offeror discussions, & final rankings
  • Financial Proposal Opening for RFPs, including requests for Best and Final Offers (BAFOs)
  • Final Evaluations for RFPs – determine Best Value; Most Advantageous Proposal
  • Conduct Final Review for IFBs – determine Lowest Responsive Bid
  • Award Recommendation – finalizing successful vendor(s)
  • Unsuccessful Offeror Debriefings for RFPs (upon request)

3. Award Process

  • Final Approvals – Internal Agency Approvals; Control Agency Approvals; Board of Public Works (BPW) Approvals (in general, contracts over $200,000 require BPW approval)
  • Execution of the contract
  • Publication of Contract Award on eMaryland Marketplace Advantage, eMMA (not including small procurement contracts of $50,000 or less)

THE PERFORMING PHASE

  1. Conduct a kick-off meeting.
  2. Monitor contract performance.
  3. Payment for accepted goods and services.
  4. Identify contract renewal options and modifications (if necessary).
  5. Identify reprocurement timeline (if necessary).
  6. Close contract; transition contractor (if necessary).

Minority Business/Expanding Opportunities 2020 cover

Expanding Opportunities

This article is featured in the 2021 edition of The Daily Record’s Expanding Opportunities Resource Guide for Small, Minority and Women Businesses. Published in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, Expanding Opportunities explores diversity, entrepreneurship and innovation in Maryland’s small business community. Read more from Expanding Opportunities on this website or read the digital edition.

To purchase a reprint of this article, contact [email protected].