Fulcrum: Creating Standards for Sample Bidding

Feb 12, 2014 | Marketplace

“No one likes bidding.” – Archimedes

Did the famed Greek mathematician really say that?  Perhaps, but he didn’t need to.  Everyone that engages in the tedious yet critical process knows it – no one likes bidding.  Three years ago, I was thrown into the world of sample bidding wide-eyed and fresh-faced.  After my first month, a haggard shell remained who was busy corralling emails, developing elaborate Outlook folder structures, and filing away Excel spreadsheets for when a bid might become a project.  The flurry of communication that occurs before a project fields caused an advanced case of presidential aging syndrome.  As the emails piled up, I began to have a recurring nightmare of appearing on an episode of A&E’s Hoarders: Sample Edition.  But anyone can complain, let’s get constructive about it.

What’s wrong with the bidding process?

  1. Email is good for communicating, but bad for storage and access.
  2. Imperfect information is the norm.  Few entities create the market.
  3. There is a tremendous amount of wasted pricing and feasibility data.
  4. It’s isolated.  Much is lost in the transfer to the fielding process.
  5. It’s labor intensive.  You don’t check individual airline websites anymore, do you?


You’ll respond, “Young Archimedes, market research studies are far more nuanced and dynamic than searching for plane flights.”  True.  The complexity and variety of studies and the sample frames they require, drive the maddening bidding process.  It has created full-time roles with titles of Analyst, Specialist, and Executive.  The tail can’t wag the dog.  Simply reducing bids to the lowest common denominator is not an acceptable solution to making bidding more efficient.  But surely some improvements can be made, am I right?

Over the past 24 months I’ve batted around ideas with colleagues – PMs, fellow bidders, scientists, coders, old industry hands, philosophers, developers, mathematicians – and we’ve identified a few solutions that can be made, while maintaining the integrity of the market research process.  Let’s centralize the process on a platform, so information can be shared across teams.  That means the bid status, the feasibility, the sample plan, the nuances and the details can be shared and searched.  Let’s connect it to the fielding platform, to retain information and save programming time.  Let’s provide access to the universe of supply and create a real market for sample.  Let’s develop APIs to save labor and create standards.  Let’s keep the communication and customization of email, but build a better file cabinet and execution platform.  Let’s make it searchable.  Let’s make it reportable for buyers and sellers.

Let’s make bidding better.  It’s possible.  As Archimedes really said, “Give me a Fulcrum, and I shall move the (bidding) world.”

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