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Photo of hand holding a generic contract.In March of 2014, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts adopted COMMBUYS, an e-procurement system meant to bring the state’s purchasing and procurement practices forward into the 21st century. Since its launch approximately one year ago, over 9,500* vendors have registered within COMMBUYS, which is an increase of more than 3,500* vendors from the state’s previous procurement tool, CommPASS. As many of these vendors are new to do doing business with the Commonwealth, the Operational Services Division (OSD) is focused on supporting users by sharing training tips and best practices.

To become a seller on a Statewide Contract for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, vendors must execute a contract with OSD or its designee after responding to a fair, open, and competitive solicitation for bids to provide goods and/or services. Registration in COMMBUYS is the first step. To provide registered vendors the best chance of winning a bid, OSD has many resources to assist with registration and participation in the procurement process.

We strongly encourage all vendors to attend OSD training sessions offered via webcast or in-person. While our course curriculum is broad, there are three training opportunities that we recommend every vendor utilize before submitting a bid:

  • Connecting your Business to the Commonwealth
    This workshop, held at locations throughout the State, includes an overview of OSD programs and services, including State (Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Women Business Enterprise (WBE)) and Federal Certification (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)), the Supplier Diversity Program (SDP), the Small Business Purchasing Program (SBPP), and a live demonstration of where to find bidding opportunities in COMMBUYS. Attendees also will learn about the Statewide and Departmental Contracting procurement process and marketing to public entities.
  • Locate and Respond to COMMBUYS Bids
    Available as an in-person training or via webinar, this course teaches vendors how to receive email notifications of COMMBUYS bid requests, search for bids, read a bid opportunity, and create a quote responding to a bid.

Visit the OSD website for a complete list of training opportunities available for sellers. The site also offers Job Aids for Sellers, which are great tools that can walk you through various activities, such as “Navigation in COMMBUYS,” “How to Search in COMMBUYS,” and “Create a Quote.”

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when approaching a bid:

Find the right commodity codes:
To receive bid notifications, vendors must select United Nations Standard Product and Services Codes (UNSPSC) for their profiles that best match the goods and services they provide. In addition to searching codes, here are a few tricks to help find the most suitable codes for your business:

  • COMMBUYS – Advanced UNSPSC for Buyers and Sellers
    This webcast introduces and defines the UNSPSC Commodity Codes and the reasoning for use in COMMBUYS. The audience is advised how to utilize the UNSPSC codes within COMMBUYS; specifically how vendors are notified of bid opportunities within COMMBUYS.
  • Check RFRs and current/expiring contracts for relevant goods and services. If a code is on that RFR or contract, it likely will be on other contracts covering similar items. Details regarding current contracts and open solicitations may be found on COMMBUYS. For information on upcoming solicitations, check the procurement schedule.
  • Check the competition. Registered COMMBUYS users may view vendor profiles, see which commodity codes they have selected, and follow their lead.

Ask questions:
If you’re unsure about a bid requirement, find the answer rather than make an incorrect assumption. COMMBUYS has a Q&A function within the system. If it has been enabled for the solicitation in progress, don’t hesitate to submit questions directly through COMMBUYS. Refer to the Job Aid providing guidance on Submitting Questions and Viewing Answers with the Q&A Tab.

If the Q&A is not being utilized, and you have technical questions about submission, contact the COMMBUYS Help Desk by calling 1-888-627-8283 or emailing COMMBUYS@state.ma.us.

Be thorough:
Make sure to read the solicitation completely and respond to all outlined requirements. If an incomplete bid is submitted, it will not be considered.

Last, but not least, remember:

Don’t give up:
If, despite your efforts, the bid is awarded to other vendors, the Strategic Sourcing Team will provide feedback on your bid response. Request a debriefing within two weeks of the award date to have the opportunity to submit questions and meet to discuss the bid. The RFR and Sourcing Lead will provide further guidance on the process.

For more information on COMMBUYS, visit the OSD website.

 

*Numbers reported from COMMBUYS as of March 2, 2015.

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