News Column

Patent Application Titled "Flexible Data Store for Implementing a Streamlined Acquisition Process" Published Online

July 22, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- According to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews journalists, a patent application by the inventors FROST, Stephen Peter (South Riding, VA); GRIFFETH, Eva L. (Arlington, VA); LEIGH, John Gregory (Vienna, VA); MENNA, Robert Rudolph (Great Falls, VA); SNOW, Michelle Louise (Arlington, VA), filed on March 7, 2014, was made available online on July 10, 2014.

The assignee for this patent application is Noblis, Inc.

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Large organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, often need to acquire goods or services, sometimes on a large scale over a number of years. In many situations, these goods or services cannot be purchased off-the-shelf. In order to meet their specialized needs, such organizations may need to issue requirements and ask vendors to offer proposals on how to address these requirements. Large-scale acquisitions may involve millions or even billions of dollars and can result in multi-year contracts.

"Such deals may be quite complex; in fact, the acquisition process alone may take years before the agreement is even executed. In many cases, e.g., for reasons of fairness or safety, laws or regulations govern how the acquisition process occurs. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration follows certain safety and reliability guidelines when acquiring new computers to manage the Nation's air space. In another example, when a government entity looks to acquire the services of a contractor, that government agency may follow certain requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulations ('FAR')."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "Certain embodiments of the present invention are directed to methods and systems that seamlessly integrate an end-to-end acquisition process using a flexible data structure. A flexible data structure consistent with these methods and systems may connect the buyer's requirement to the vendor's proposed solution, facilitating a requirement-by-requirement evaluation process. Such a granular process allows buyers to evaluate content as well as price, to more efficiently and effectively determine a true 'value' of a proposal. Embodiments of the present invention standardize the format of proposals, allowing buyers to more easily compare vendors' proposals side-by-side. Still other embodiments of the present invention produce an error checking report indicating the deficiencies in a proposal to further aid vendors in improving proposals and buyers in evaluating proposals.

"Yet another embodiment provides a library to allow buyers to review and/or re-use requirements such as those that have been vetted already and are known to produce a good proposed solution from vendors. Likewise, vendors may access a library to review and/or re-use solutions to requirements such as those that match the goods or services that the vendor has successfully produced in past agreements.

"Other embodiments of the present invention facilitate a standardized evaluation process that results in a higher quality final agreement with fewer mistakes, produced in a shorter period of time. The invention implements the acquisition process with less back and forth communication between buyer and vendors, virtually eliminating 'cross-talk.'

"A electronic front-end consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention allows buyers to view a consistent buyer-side format to establish requirements and allows vendors to view a consistent vendor-side format to respond to buyer's requirements.

"Still other embodiments of the present invention provide a corporate memory storing information regarding the acquisition process including multiple versions of requirements and proposals, communication between buyers and vendors, questions, requests for clarification about the requirements, proposals, etc. Such corporate memory may be helpful, for example, in the event of an audit or protest by a chosen or non-chosen vendor.

"One aspect of the disclosure is directed to a method for facilitating a process for a buyer to make an acquisition using an interactive tool that may include receiving by the interactive tool requirements for the acquisition from the buyer, representing each of the requirements as a data element in a data structure associated with the interactive tool, presenting by the interactive tool a request for proposal based on the stored data elements to potential vendors for the acquisition, enabling development of proposed solutions to the request for proposal by one or more of the potential vendors via the interactive tool, for each of the one or more potential vendors, linking solution items of the vendor's proposed solution to the data elements representing the requirements, via the data structure, providing, by the interactive tool, analysis to the buyer using the linked data elements and solution items to facilitate the buyer selecting a chosen vendor for the acquisition, and enforcing, by the interactive tool, a pre-determined schedule for the buyer's selection process. Another aspect of the disclosure is directed to a method for facilitating a process for a buyer to make an acquisition using an interactive tool that may include receiving by the interactive tool requirements for the acquisition from the buyer, representing each of the requirements as a data element in a data structure associated with the interactive tool, presenting by the interactive tool a request for proposal based on the stored data elements to potential vendors for the acquisition, enabling development of proposed solutions to the request for proposal by one or more of the potential vendors via the interactive tool, for each of the one or more potential vendors, linking solution items of the vendor's proposed solution to the data elements representing the requirements via the data structure, providing by the interactive tool analysis to the buyer using the linked data elements and solution items to facilitate the buyer selecting a chosen vendor for the acquisition, receiving an element of the vendor's proposed solution related to a primary requirement in the set of requirements, determining that a particular data element that vendor has provided a solution item has a corresponding linked data element, determining that the vendor has not provided a solution item for the corresponding linked data element, notifying the buyer of the missing solution item for the corresponding linked data element, and enforcing, by the interactive tool, a pre-determined schedule for the buyer's selection process. Further, another aspect of the disclosure is directed to an apparatus for enabling a buyer to make an acquisition according to a predetermined schedule that may include an online acquisition management tool configured to receive requirements for the acquisition from the buyer, present the requirements to potential vendors for the acquisition, enable one or more of the potential vendors to develop a proposed solution to the requirements, and facilitate the buyer in implementing a pre-determined schedule selecting a chosen vendor for the acquisition from among the vendors developing a proposed solution; and a data structure associated with the online acquisition management tool configured to store each requirement as a data element and link the data element for each requirement to a corresponding solution item in each vendor's proposed solution.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, exemplify certain aspects of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain some of the principles associated with the invention. In the drawings:

"FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a system for performing an integrated acquisition process in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 2 is a flowchart depicting a process for performing acquisitions in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 3 depicts a module for developing a request for proposal consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 4 depicts a module for defining requirements consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 5 depicts a module for amending a request for proposal consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 6 depicts a module for developing proposals consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 7 depicts a module for evaluating the proposals consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention;

"FIG. 8 depicts a module for awarding an agreement consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention; and

"FIG. 9 depicts a module for managing and modifying an agreement consistent with certain embodiments of the present invention."

For more information, see this patent application: FROST, Stephen Peter; GRIFFETH, Eva L.; LEIGH, John Gregory; MENNA, Robert Rudolph; SNOW, Michelle Louise. Flexible Data Store for Implementing a Streamlined Acquisition Process. Filed March 7, 2014 and posted July 10, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=1270&p=26&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140703.PD.&OS=PD/20140703&RS=PD/20140703

Keywords for this news article include: Noblis Inc, Legal Issues, Information Technology, Information and Data Architecture.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly


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