The Schedules Input Program (SIP) is a very old and outdated software tool that GSA uses to review and accept contractors’ GSA Advantage Pricelists. To a SIP first time user, the program can seem overwhelming, so this blog is intended to help those who want to become better at using SIP.
There are 5 important tips which will guide you on how to navigate, submit, and work around issues within the program.
1. Know the rules with submitting excel spreadsheets in SIP
When you use excel spreadsheets to import, you must make sure that you put the product information into the IPROD spreadsheet. The IPROD spreadsheet is one of 16 excel spreadsheets that are placed in the import folder in your SIPV8 file, however, it is this spreadsheet, along with the IPRICE and IPHOTO, which contractors must pay special attention. Contractors must realize that you cannot have special characters in these spreadsheets, such as spaces, ampersands, and dollar symbols. Also, there must be no spaces after your data; SIP will read these spaces as extra characters and as invalid data. When importing the excel spreadsheets, its good to know what type of excel spreadsheet you are importing. You will have to choose before the import either an xls file or an xlsx file -- it's simple to remember the difference. Xls is Excel 97-2003 and xlsx is any Excel program after 2003.
2. Its important to know how many line items you can upload in a single import
SIP only accepts 65,536 line items. You cannot import more products during a single import. If you wish to add more products than 65,536, you must append instead of replace data. To do this, you must only import IPROD, IPRICE, IPHOTO, and ICORPET (in the Import Folder). You CANNOT add all the other files, such as IACCXPRO, IBPA, ICOLORS, ICONTR, IFABRICS, IMOLS, IMSG, IOPTIONS, IQTYVOL, IREMITEOR, ISPECTOR, and IZONE. If you add all the other files, or even just the ICONTR file, your data will not be appended, but it will be replaced.
3. Always make sure you are updating your upload to reflect the latest modification number
A lot of new users to SIP forget to update the modification number within the catalog file in SIP. Yes, GSA can see that you have changed your modification number and effective date on your GSA Advantage Pricelist or in SIP language “Text File,” but you need to make this update in the catalog file, the SIP program itself. This can be done under the “Contract” tab by simply updating the “Modification number” text box and the “Catalog effective date” text box. I suggest making this change last and right before you submit your catalog file to GSA. For some reason, SIP sometimes removes this information after you have imported your excel spreadsheets.
4. Make sure to check your response files prior to submitting your catalog file or replacement file
Most SIP users fail to perform this simple task prior to submitting a Catalog File or Replacement File. If you do not check your response file status, it will not clear the system, and you will be unable to submit the Catalog File to GSA. As a pointer, I recommend checking your file status via the Vendor Support Center, and when your Catalog File and Text File are accepted, go into SIP and download the response file.
5. Double check everything
I cannot stress enough to a new SIP user that you must double, even triple check all your updates within SIP. It is important to know all the rules and required procedures. Knowledge in the program allows for easier uploads, fewer errors, and ultimately less time spent importing data. SIP is a program that can only be mastered through knowing all the rules, so hopefully the tips above may make you better at knowing them.