Vendors Embrace Howard County's Seamless Online Bidding Experience

Written by Sample Hubspot User

Howard County



Located in the heart of central Maryland between Baltimore and Washington, Howard County offers the charm of a historic past mixed with the experience of a cosmopolitan community. Home to over 110,000 households, the County boasts a welcoming business environment, with proximity to 50 federal agencies, universities, Fortune 500 companies, technology, defense, and healthcare companies.

Dean Hof, Procurement Manager overseeing a fifteen-person procurement team, shares that Howard County began exploring automation in 2016. The County’s Office of Procurement & Contract Administration annually maintains approximately 800 contracts for goods, services, and capital improvement projects.

Interestingly, it was the vendor community that started asking for online bidding because they were experiencing it in nearby jurisdictions. As the Howard County team researched eProcurement options, it was important that the user interface be very easy, with no fees for vendors to register and participate.

PlanetBids was chosen as the eProcurement solution.


Getting vendors to register in the new system was the first step. Having the system automatically send email instructions to all current vendors helped shorten that initial timeframe.

When the pandemic sent staff home, there were still some remaining paper processes and submittals being accepted. Two team members would have to go into the office for the bid opening or to collect documentation. Then, arrangements were made for the meeting to occur in an open or outdoor office space for proper social distancing. That’s when the County decided to further automate those remaining manual processes.

Results Using the PB System™

Hof says the evaluation module was then purchased to allow team evaluators to enter their ratings, with the system automatically ranking the proposals. “This was new to staff who were accustomed to meeting in person to discuss the proposal and their scores,” he notes, adding, “It saved personnel time, as we no longer had to coordinate these in-person meetings to accommodate everyone’s schedules. Individuals could work on their evaluations at any time, allowing the process to move much faster.”

Returning to the office in July 2021, the team continues to use automation and determined to not return in-person and paper-intensive processes.

Offering insights into what made the transition successful, Jennifer Rittenhouse, the Senior Contract Analyst, shares that managing the human element to ensure buy-in is just as important as the system functionality. She notes, “We took the time to work with people on the transition, creating easy-to-follow one-page instructions to take away the intimidation factor of this operational change.”

On the supplier side, Rittenhouse states, “Our vendor participation has increased since moving to the online system. Where we used to receive 3 to 4 responses, we are now getting 10 to 12 submittals.” Extending supplier outreach may be one reason, but another is the ease of use.

Rittenhouse concludes, “When we first began, occasionally a vendor would call and state ‘that was too easy…I must have done something wrong.’ Our team has been very pleased with the ability to increase vendor participation, which results in greater competition and transparency within our bid processes.” 

Chosen PB System™ Solutions

  • Vendor Management is the core of the PB System™ suite of modules. It offers a configurable and intuitive registration process to ensure that vendor registrations are complete and unique, avoiding duplicate records. Instantly gain access to vendor records, run advanced searches on multiple sets of vendor data, perform real-time verification of provided information (i.e., certifications and licenses), generate comprehensive reports with visual charts, and broadcast messages to selected vendors.
  • Bid Management is the most complete web-based system on the market today. Procurement professionals can quickly manage the process of issuing, monitoring, conducting evaluations, and awarding formal and informal bids. More importantly, the PB System™ can handle construction and public works projects – a feature unique to the eProcurement industry. Vendors can interactively search, view, and respond to bid opportunities securely over the Internet.

  • Project Evaluation enables an agency or organization to interactively conduct the evaluation process entirely online. It allows the buying officer and the evaluation committee to assess a bidder’s qualifications fairly and to identify the best proposal – confidentially and impartially.

    Buying officers can assign evaluators, set evaluation criteria, attach related documents, communicate with evaluators, and document the entire decision-making process. Proposals can be reviewed and scored without knowledge of pricing. Scoring cannot be challenged and is entirely confidential. The PB System™ offers two scoring methods: Weighted and a new Rubric method. Clients also have the option to add additional evaluation rounds, up to four total.

Contact us to schedule a free demo to see how the PB system can help you