Frequently Asked Travel & Procurement Questions Related to the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak
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Online Bidding

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Purchasing Services has partnered with Determine (formerly Iasta), a software service provider of an online competitive bidding technology. The Iasta tool called "SmartSource", has been designed to be a full service eprocurement tool to enable competitive bidding for use by the campus community.

Online competitive bidding technology is a very effective sourcing tool saving significant time, reduces the purchase price of most products and services, and creates competitive pricing pressure that could not be replicated using a traditional request for quotation/proposal process.

Key features of SmartSource include:

Quick and easy distribution of Penn's business requirements to all suppliers participating in the bidding event. All participating suppliers receive the same information at the same time.

Open Forum for suppliers questions.

A library of standard templates available to use for events.

Purchasing Services encourages all campus buyers to begin using SmartSource for their competitive bidding requirements as per University financial policy #2308. To begin utilizing the tool new users should contact the eBusiness Administrator for assistance. All projects must be reviewed by the eBusiness Administrator before being published to potential bidders.

Internal users who will be acting as bid response evaluators only, along with bidders, do not need to be set up as desktop users but will be invited by the Project Administrator to access the online bid through the SmartSource Web Portal.

Building a Survey Using Excel

When using SmartSource to solicit information from vendors, whether it be in the form of an RFI, RFQ, or RFP, the questions to which vendors are asked to respond are contained in components called "Surveys". Surveys may be constructed by entering information directly into SmartSource or by creating the Survey in Excel and then importing it. This second alternative is particularly useful if the questions are derived through a collaborative effort and all contributors are not SmartSource users. This spreadsheet template is an example of how the information to be imported must be formatted, and this pdf document illustrates how it appears once it has been imported into SmartSource. Note that the third column in the spreadsheet is informational only as question types must be defined after the information has been imported. Importing Surveys into SmartSource from Excel is quick and easy and can be accomplished with just a few key strokes.

When to Use Online Competitive Bidding Technology?

Purchasing Services has identified the following criteria for determining an appropriate use of online competitive bidding technology:

  • Does the commodity lend itself to negotiations?
  • Can the Request for Proposal/Quotation specifications and business requirements be clearly defined for the potential bidders?
  • Are there enough suppliers interested in the business opportunity to participate in a competitive bidding event?

Using The Desktop Version of SmartSource on an Apple Computer

SmartSource desktop runs natively on any MS Windows computer but can be downloaded onto any Intel-based Mac (that would be any Mac made since 2006) that has one of the following options:

1. VMWare Fusion, plus an embedded version of XP, Vista or Win7 (widely available 3rd party consumer software

2. Parallels Desktop, plus an embedded version of XP, Vista or Win7 (widely available 3rd party consumer software)

3. Apple Boot Camp, dual-booting into XP, Vista or Win7 (included in Mac OS X Leopard or Snow Leopard)


Please direct all questions regarding online competitive bidding technology to