By: Stephanie Hagan on November 18th, 2020
Schedule Input Program (SIP) Training for GSA Contractors
GSA Schedule | Resources and Insight | 9 Min Read
SIP—it’s only three letters, but it can be a dense and frustrating program for GSA Schedule contractors. SIP, which stands for Schedule Input Program, is a software program created by the General Services Administration (GSA) for contractors to upload their contract information to GSA eLibrary and GSA Advantage! platforms. GSA contractors have to upload their catalogs and price lists to reflect the MAS Consolidation by March 31, 2021, so it's important you know how to use SIP.
Although it’s an essential program, there aren’t very many public resources or training sessions about SIP, and it proves to be challenging to navigate for GSA contractors. A lot of our clients will come to us for help after trying to conduct a SIP upload many times, so we have decided to create a training to help GSA Schedule contractors become more familiar with this program.
In this blog, we’ll use images and several video clips from our Lunch & Learn webinar, “Mastering the Schedule Input Program,” to show you what you need to know to maintain compliance with SIP.
What is the Schedule Input Program (SIP)?
The Schedule Input Program (SIP) is a free program available for download through the Vendor Support Center (VSC) for GSA all contractors. It functions as the backend program to GSA eLibrary and GSA Advantage! and allows contractors to upload information about their contract as well as the products and services they plan to offer to the government.
As a reminder, GSA eLibrary is essentially the homepage for your contract as it includes your administrative information, Contracting Officer (CO) information, and links to your pricelist. According to the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Solicitation, every GSA MAS contractor must complete SIP uploads for their pricelists to be posted publicly.
GSA Advantage! is a government purchasing website run by GSA where government agencies can locate your products and services. It’s an especially useful tool for product contractors.
Once your GSA Schedule contract is initially awarded, you must upload your pricelist through SIP within 6 months of your award date. Every time you have an addition, modification, deletion, price reduction awarded to your contract after the initial upload, you must update pricelist within 30 days, so it’s important you know how to navigate this program.
There are two types of files on SIP that correspond to GSA eLibrary and GSA Advantage!: Your text file and your catalog file.
Every GSA Schedule contractor has a text file pricelist. It outlines your terms and conditions, a brief overview of your company such as a capabilities statement, and most importantly—your pricelist. For contractors who provide services, you’ll list your entire pricelist. This includes your labor categories, descriptions, and price table. The text file is in a PDF format that will go directly on your GSA eLibrary page.
Your catalog file corresponds to GSA Advantage!. It’s specifically for GSA contractors who offer products through the GSA Schedule because it consists of the catalog of items awarded on your GSA Schedule contract. We’ll discuss how to add/remove products and what the spreadsheets you have to fill out for the upload look like later on.
How to Navigate the Schedule Input Program
Since the SIP can be complicated and SIP uploads require several steps, we’re going to walk you through what the program looks like and how to conduct a SIP upload.
Becoming familiar with the SIP Homepage
The SIP homepage is a helpful resource for GSA contractors. It has important news that often includes updates to the MAS Consolidation and holds the contact information for the Vendor Support Center (VSC) which you can use for any technical issues you may have with the SIP.
It’s important for you to know how to navigate the homepage. The key to knowing the SIP and conducting an efficient upload is to know where to go and what information is categorized under each of the tools and tabs. We suggest you make a cheat-sheet with each tab so you can reference it each time you use the program. Don’t worry, we’ll help you get started by explaining what each tool does and what is housed under each tab.
On the top left-hand side, you’ll see all the tabs available to you. We’ll cover the most relevant tabs you need to know:
The only thing you need to be concerned with on the file tab is the “export” option for products. When you export, it will take all the information available on your products and save it to the local drive on your computer. When will you need to do this? If you want to send your information over to a new Point of Contact (POC) like a consultant at Winvale, you can do this through the export option. After exporting, you can find this list on the SIPV8 (SIP Version 8) folder titled “export” on your local drive, which is automatically installed with the SIP.
You’ll spend a lot of time in here. The main thing you’ll want to do in this tab regarding an upload is select the “multiple contractors” option. Most of our clients generally only have one contract, but you’ll still need to select this if you want to locate your contract file. If you have multiple contracts like we do as consultants, you’ll want to make sure you have selected the right file.
This is where you’ll do the physical SIP upload and process the response file from GSA that will tell you whether your upload was accepted. When you’re ready to upload, you’ll go to “create a replacement file.” This is where you’ll replace all your information with the edits you just made.
You’ll want to periodically check this tab for program updates. As you can see on the top left-hand corner, this version of the SIP is v8.5e, but that will change in the future. There’s no set schedule for updates, but if you check it every once in a while, you can avoid running into issues with your upload. If you have an error uploading it could be because the program isn’t updated, so be sure to check that first before you call the Vendor Support Center.
How to Manage Your Contractor and Contract Information
On the left-hand side of the homepage, you’ll see a section highlighted in blue asking, “where do you want to go?” These tabs are where you’ll manage your contractor and contract information, and where you’ll access your text file and catalog file.
This tab is important for maintaining compliance, especially for new GSA Schedule contractors. In this section you’ll input your company name, DUNS Number, password provided by GSA (most likely the same password as GSA eBuy unless you have changed it), division name, address, and your website.
The order section at the bottom is important. You want to put the email address of someone who can consistently process and respond to order questions. This person must also have access to orders via the Purchase Order Portal, so this contact is generally a contract administrator. It’s important to note you cannot just change this information on your own, every admin change needs to be made formally with GSA through a modification before it can be uploaded. If you change this information without a modification, your Contracting Officer will just reject it.
The contract tab is where you’ll manage all the information for your contract including terms and conditions, product discounts, and warranty information. To learn about each section of this tab, watch the video below.
We’ll go more into products when we discuss the import function, but in this video we cover how you can add a product and change its pricing if you want to edit the information on a few single products. However, if you have several products, you’ll want to use the import function.
In this tab, you can list any accessories that match your products. This tab looks and functions exactly like the products tab, but most contractors don’t use this tab very often.
If you have multiple part number options, for example multiple configurations of a computer package including a modem, mouse, and keyboard, you can list them here. You can note the price difference, manufacturer, and description on the right-hand side.
Text File Tab:
As we mentioned earlier in this article, the text file is a large part of your SIP upload. In the clip below, we discuss how to keep your text file updated and ensure you have the right text file in this tab since it will be shown on GSA eLibrary.
How to Import Your Catalog into SIP:
If you want to import your entire product catalog into SIP instead of editing each single product in the product tab we outlined above, you’ll want to use this function. There are several steps in this process, so we are going to break it down into a series of video clips. In this first clip, we’ll cover how to access the import function, and how to locate the important files you need to edit in the SIPV8 folder.
Importing and Uploading Your Data:
Your spreadsheets are edited, your information is updated, and all your products are in the IPROD sheet—what’s next? Importing and uploading your data back into SIP.
SIP is the backend to GSA eLibrary and GSA Advantage!, so once you have completed all the work in SIP and your response file is accepted and you process the file, it will appear on the sites usually within 24 hours. If you happen to get rejected, you will need to back and fix the specific issues GSA has highlighted.
Do You Need More Assistance with the Schedule Input Program?
Although we walked you through several facets of SIP, there are still more things you might need help with in the future. Every GSA Schedule contractor must complete a SIP upload reflecting their new pricelist modification within 30 days of the modification award, so it’s important you are on top of this.
If you have any questions about SIP or need help with the program, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our consultants. You can watch the full version of this webinar, “Mastering the Schedule Input Program” and view our other educational webinars on our government contracting resources page.