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Innovative Ways to Bid Highly Confidential Projects

Innovative Ways to Bid Highly Confidential Projects

Posted: August 12, 2022 | Estimating

Imagine a project so highly confidential that you need to limit the number of subcontractors viewing the project, while still satisfying the owner’s desire to obtain at least three solid bids per trade. You also need to bid the project in Phases, 75% CD Bid Set, and then 100% CD Bid Set. The following is an example of such a dilemma that one of our general contractor customers had last month. They not only succeeded in the above requirements, but they did so with less extra effort than a standard project.

The first step was to send out a Bid Invitation requiring that the subcontractors digitally sign their NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). In order to limit the number of subcontractors viewing the most highly sensitive and confidential portions of the project, they limited the first Bid Phase (which they called “Expression of Interest”) to a minimum number of drawings and specs – just enough to pique their interest and see if they wanted to bid the project.

Only the subcontractors that said “Yes” to bidding were sent the second Bid Phase (75% CD Bid Set). Again, it was important to limit the exposure of the confidential portions of the project to as few eyeballs as possible, so plans were segregated to ensure that trades only saw the plans/sections they needed to see. Luckily their PipelineSuite Bid Management software has a “Planroom Permissions Grid”, which allowed them to select which pages of drawings would be viewable by each Bid Package/Trade.

In addition, they were able to customize the scope verbiage for each Bid Package so that the subcontractors had specific bidding instructions relative to their trade (instead of a standard, generic Bid Invitation for all subcontractors, for example).

After the Architect completed the drawings, the next Bid Phase (100% CD Bid Set) was created with just one button click. Updated drawings were uploaded and segregated – again using the Planroom Permissions Grid feature, and only the “Yes-Bidding” subcontractors were sent the Bid Invitation for the final Bid Phase, with one click. Also, in the final Bid Phase, they were able to create different bid dates for certain Bid Packages. This allowed them to shorten the construction timeline by bidding and awarding the Bid Packages with products with longer lead times first, such as Structural Steel, or early construction trades, such as Site Work before Finishes, for example.

All the bidding history for each Bid Package within each Bid Phase was available within the same project view for quick reference. The general contractor was very pleased that they were able to bid their complex and highly confidential project in such an efficient, organized manner using their PipelineSuite bidding software.

It’s important that contractors use the right tools to build their projects. It’s also equally important that they use the right SOFTWARE tools for bidding, especially for complex projects.

 Rick Dill is a 37-year veteran in the construction industry and also the founder and CEO of PipelineSuite® bid management software. For more information, visit or email [email protected].