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Author Topic: Clarification of terms  (Read 8599 times)

Jason Lavoie

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Clarification of terms
« on: January 07, 2011, 02:10:35 pm »

the spec calls for "wireless conference system complete with 9 delegates, 1 chairman"

winning bidder wants to put in 10 SLX tabletop wireless mics

not to mention that the room already has 6 channels of SLX, but I would figure that the words conference, delegate, and chairman would have locked it into a proper conference system with chairman features.

what do you think?

Jason
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Clarification of terms
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2011, 09:13:15 pm »

Jason Lavoie wrote on Fri, 07 January 2011 14:10

the spec calls for "wireless conference system complete with 9 delegates, 1 chairman"

winning bidder wants to put in 10 SLX tabletop wireless mics

not to mention that the room already has 6 channels of SLX, but I would figure that the words conference, delegate, and chairman would have locked it into a proper conference system with chairman features.

what do you think?

Jason



I think 10 SLX wireless do not a 9 delegate 1 chairman conference system make.

Mac
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Dick Rees

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Re: Clarification of terms
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2011, 09:27:24 pm »

Mac Kerr wrote on Fri, 07 January 2011 20:13

Jason Lavoie wrote on Fri, 07 January 2011 14:10

the spec calls for "wireless conference system complete with 9 delegates, 1 chairman"

winning bidder wants to put in 10 SLX tabletop wireless mics

not to mention that the room already has 6 channels of SLX, but I would figure that the words conference, delegate, and chairman would have locked it into a proper conference system with chairman features.

what do you think?

Jason



I think 10 SLX wireless do not a 9 delegate 1 chairman conference system make.

Mac



Agreed.  Sort of like saying "music is just a bunch of notes" without putting the notes in order and implementing harmonic structure.  Now this

http://eu.audio-technica.com/en/products/product.asp?catID=7 &subID=5&prodID=2832

is a conferencing system.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Clarification of terms
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2011, 09:48:02 pm »

Jason Lavoie wrote on Fri, 07 January 2011 14:10

the spec calls for "wireless conference system complete with 9 delegates, 1 chairman"

winning bidder wants to put in 10 SLX tabletop wireless mics

not to mention that the room already has 6 channels of SLX, but I would figure that the words conference, delegate, and chairman would have locked it into a proper conference system with chairman features.

what do you think?

Jason


If the spec is that poorly written, then as long as you adhear to the spec, you have fulfilled your part.

Now if there is some other part of the spec that defines performance, you need to follow that.

I see specs all the time that really don't give any real guidance.

I really wonder who writes this stuff.

I was recently talking to a guy who was "tasked" to spec out a subwoofer system.  He did not understand what sensitivity, SPL, freq response, wattage etc meant and the relationships between them.  Yet it was his "job".  We will see what the customer ends up with. Rolling Eyes
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Ivan Beaver
dB Audio & Video Inc.
Danley Sound Labs

Brad Weber

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Re: Clarification of terms
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2011, 11:12:30 pm »

Although it is unfortunate, I have to agree with Ivan.  In a competitive bid situation it is too often not what is a logical or best interpretation but rather what interpretation can someone argue might be made.  You can probably also bet that the person who bid the ULX solution was not going to ask for clarification if they thought their interpretation gave them some advantage.

On another forum today someone noted that they were putting together a bid for a church where the spec was to provide a "white Line Array".  Apparently nothing more than that describing the speaker system.  My audio and AV bid sets are routinely 20 to 25 drawings and 30 to 60 pages of specs, no wonder I get underbid on some projects.
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Brad Weber
muse Audio Video

Ivan Beaver

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Re: Clarification of terms-Detailed specs
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2011, 10:01:12 am »

Brad Weber wrote on Fri, 07 January 2011 23:12

Although it is unfortunate, I have to agree with Ivan.  In a competitive bid situation it is too often not what is a logical or best interpretation but rather what interpretation can someone argue might be made.  You can probably also bet that the person who bid the ULX solution was not going to ask for clarification if they thought their interpretation gave them some advantage.

On another forum today someone noted that they were putting together a bid for a church where the spec was to provide a "white Line Array".  Apparently nothing more than that describing the speaker system.  My audio and AV bid sets are routinely 20 to 25 drawings and 30 to 60 pages of specs, no wonder I get underbid on some projects.

Is it unfortunate that you agree with me or unfortunate because what I said was true? Rolling Eyes  Laughing  Laughing

And if the job will be given to the lowest bidder-without a review of whether or not their bid is correct for the job-or will even work-then the customer gets what they deserve.

If somebody is going to put out a "spec", then that spec needs to be complete and specifically spell out what the job is, what the results are to be and how it is to be accomplished.

And even then there is no guarantee.

A good number of years ago I was asked to bid for the lighting of the national Christmas tree in DC.  This was the first time the job had gone out to bid.

This also entailed having the system up for about a month to be operated from  10am to 1am everyday-including Christmas and New years days.

Some of the specs were it needed to produce 120dB at 200' from the stage-freq response of 30Hz-18Khz, 8 monitor mixes, 32 ch FOH and so forth.  They have live performance every night and music played all during the day and a whole host of other little pieces.

They also stated that the system had to be setup 1 week in advance and that it would be measured EVERYDAY untill the opening ceromony.

So I figured the manpower issues-some replacement costs due to the drivers in the cold weather that long and so forth.  I gave them a bid that I thought was fair and that should be able to get the job.

Well I didn't.  And the winning bid was around 1/4 my bid Shocked Mad  

HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?  I remember watching the ceromony on TV and when the president walked up to the mic and started talking he said "Can you hear me out there"?  I am guessing it was not 120dB Laughing

So later that week I went down to "check out the system" that won.

What I saw appaulded me.  It was a single Bose 802 on each side of the stage-NO FOH position-no subs-a couple of floor wedges.

The guy mixing was in a little room to the side of the stage-no monitor console-NOTHING at all like what the bid request was for.

I won't mention who won-but it was the same company who had been providing sound for the event for years-and is a large player in the sound reinforcement world.

So I figured that when they were told to write the specs for what they had been providing-and the job was going to be sent out for bid-they just made up all kinds of stuff to make sure that the other bidders would be way higher-and their regular price would look like a bargan.

So even with detailed specs- you can't be sure what you are bidding against if nobody in the know is going to actually check it out.

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For every complicated question-there is a simple- easy to understand WRONG answer.

Can I have some more talent in the monitors--PLEASE?

Ivan Beaver
dB Audio & Video Inc.
Danley Sound Labs

Brad Weber

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Re: Clarification of terms-Detailed specs
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2011, 11:23:01 am »

Ivan Beaver wrote on Sat, 08 January 2011 10:01

Is it unfortunate that you agree with me or unfortunate because what I said was true? Rolling Eyes  Laughing  Laughing

Definitely the latter, at least this time.  Wink

You bring up a good point and it extends beyond bids not being reviewed to bids that are reviewed but with deviations accepted by those not knowing the impact of such decisions beyond maybe the money involved.  I have had Owners accept bids with major deviations from the specifications and drawings and there is nothing I could really do about it at that point other than walk away from the project, which I've done in a few cases.  But it is also somewhat understandable as I have seen the arguments some bidders come up with to try to justify deviating from the design and they probably sound very compelling to people who don't know better.

One of my favorites was the Contractor that offered a "VE" suggestion for a different speaker model that was a step down from the speakers in their bid.  However, what they didn't point out was that the speaker model in their bid wasn't what was specified and was already a step down, or two, from what was specified.  They knew that if they could get the Owner to accept the VE offering then they could offer a lower bid than everyone else while the deviation from the bid specs wouldn't be an issue.  What the Owner saw as an attempt to help them save money was really an attempt by someone who could not get some of the specified equipment to get the bid.  And if we had not pushed to be part of the review process that is probably what would have happened.
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Brad Weber
muse Audio Video

Craig Hauber

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Re: Clarification of terms-Detailed specs
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2011, 02:44:47 am »

So if it's a public job with public funds and people who bid to spec are shut out and the spec isn't met by the winning bidder?  
Sounds like there could be some form of legal recourse in that situation.
-If not to win the job but to disclose yet even more government corruption?

Yes I know, being too idealistic here, but very frustrated from what I've witnessed our tax dollars wasted on when it comes to A-V!

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Craig Hauber
CSA Productions Inc.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Clarification of terms-Detailed specs-Lack of detailed specs
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2011, 09:34:29 am »

Craig Hauber wrote on Mon, 10 January 2011 02:44

So if it's a public job with public funds and people who bid to spec are shut out and the spec isn't met by the winning bidder?  
Sounds like there could be some form of legal recourse in that situation.
-If not to win the job but to disclose yet even more government corruption?

Yes I know, being too idealistic here, but very frustrated from what I've witnessed our tax dollars wasted on when it comes to A-V!



When it comes to the letter of the law-the contract-it can get stupid.

We had a situation a couple of years ago that a contractor was to build a concrete handicap ramp up a hill to the entrance of a government building.

So the lowest bidder got the job and did it-and got paid.

The problem was that the slope was steeper than regulations allow and the ramp was unusable.

But nowhere in the bid documents did it say the project had to be to meet any standards or regulations-just the starting and stopping locations.  So the winning bidder took the shortest path-which meant much less contrete/costs.

So what happened? That same contractor got paid (again) to tear out their work and REDO (and got paid yet again) to do it right Shocked .  So they got 3 jobs out of it (and with our tax dollars) because of the way the spec was written.  They followed what the spec said-it's not their fault it was so poorly written Rolling Eyes

Why did they choose the same contractor-who screwed it up in the first place?  They already had a "relationship" with the contractor Rolling Eyes

Of course there is always the integrity issue-but in bid work that often goes out the window.

Hence one of the reason Brad puts so much into his documents-to make sure the result and the job are well stated and it is understood by all parties.

We have lost a lot of jobs because we bid what the customer needed and would be right for them, but the low bidder gave them something different.  If we had bid the gear they did, our price would have been much lower.

Hence the reason I am always hear asking people to properly define their needs/wants, not just "something".
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For every complicated question-there is a simple- easy to understand WRONG answer.

Can I have some more talent in the monitors--PLEASE?

Ivan Beaver
dB Audio & Video Inc.
Danley Sound Labs

Brad Weber

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Re: Clarification of terms-Detailed specs
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2011, 12:39:35 pm »

Craig Hauber wrote on Mon, 10 January 2011 02:44

So if it's a public job with public funds and people who bid to spec are shut out and the spec isn't met by the winning bidder?  
Sounds like there could be some form of legal recourse in that situation.
-If not to win the job but to disclose yet even more government corruption?

Yes I know, being too idealistic here, but very frustrated from what I've witnessed our tax dollars wasted on when it comes to A-V!

I had one state funded project that had to go through the whole public bid opening bit and everything.  When we reviewed the bids at the bid opening it turned out that the 'apparent low bidder' did not provide some of the paperwork required to show their qualifications (which they did not meet).  The user reps and myself pointed this out and in front of all the bidders the representative for State purchasing stated that they could waive any requirements if they so decided.  We talked them out of doing so only to end up having to deal with the bidder's attorney.

On a State Board of Regents bid where the apparent low bid had numerous deficiencies including non-approved substitutions, missing items, etc.  The bid was awarded before we were even allowed to do a technical review and the only reason that bidder wasn't awarded the bid had nothing to do with complying with the technical documents but was solely because the bid value was not presented in the form the State had defined.

It often comes down to the point Ivan noted, purchasing people are usually much more concerned about non-technical issues and they are the ones controlling the bid and award process and making the final decisions.  The people involved in those roles know the processes but rarely know much about the thing being bid.  Any technical review of the bid and bidder, and the response to that review, is often up to what role the purchasing agents allows them.  Some are very good about working with those who can assess the technical merits of a bid, others seem to care less as they don't seem to see that as being part of their role.  And I can see the Purchasing side, you have people whose performance is judged much more by the amount of the purchase and not the value received, which they often have no way to assess on their own, so that is reflected in their focus.

Another aspect is that there is almost always someone who will be willing to take the less ethical route, perhaps they don't even see it as being unethical if the process allows it.

There are ways around this that are usually legally acceptable, such as the two envelope bid process.  However, many purchasing agencies avoid those as they are not their standard approach and are typically more potential work and risk for them.

And Ivan is absolutely right that it is really the people who want to do good work that get the short end of this.  My specifications aren't as long and detailed as they are to address the ones who would do the job right anyways, much of what is in the specs is in response to those that tried to find creative ways to avoid doing it right in order to get the job in the first place.
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Brad Weber
muse Audio Video
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