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Author Topic: What is in a good RFP?  (Read 3430 times)

Bill McIntosh

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What is in a good RFP?
« on: February 21, 2016, 03:21:11 PM »

I am lead volunteer on the media team at my church.  We are starting a renovation project that will stretch 3 or 4 years, so not ready to buy anything short term.  But, I will be tasked with a major part of the RFP.

So -- from the perspective of a installation contractor, what makes a good RFP?  One that gives you enough info to decide if you want to bid?

My goal is to write it so that it is brand neutral and focused on performance.

I have a few ideas:
- Plan and elevation diagrams of the sanctuary
- Current audio gear list
- Current and planned musical styles
- SPL levels at FOH (in balcony) and Main floor with current gear
- Desired SPL levels and allowed variation
- Narrative of limitations/complaints related to the current system
- Expected technical skill of the operators.
- In scope and out of scope areas

What else?  (To state the obvious -- it will include physical address, due dates, contact persons, insurance/performance bond requirements, start date and expected duration, and background info.)

If you prefer to PM, I am on the forums a couple of times a week at least.

Thanks!
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Cailen Waddell

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Re: What is in a good RFP?
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2016, 03:54:47 PM »

What deliverables will you be requesting in each contractors proposal?  Spell that out as well.  While it will be impossible to have a complete apples to apples comparison, some contractors will describe the performance they provide and a couple of key pieces of gear while others will provide a complete equipment list.  Will you require a complete system riser?  Line item quote?   Do what you can to make the rfp responses as comparable as possible.


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Caleb Dueck

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Re: What is in a good RFP?
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2016, 05:58:37 PM »

I would argue that an RFP is what each company proposes to meet your requirements.   It's not a bid spec, thus the proposals are just that.  They won't be, nor are intended to be, identical. 

 What you are ultimately looking for is not who has the cheapest labor (what most bids seem to ultimately identify) but rather which company has the better recommendation to meet your needs.

I agree that the capabilities desired should be the emphasis, not the "black boxes".  From an AV design company standpoint, here some things I like to know:
- what preferences do you have, gear-wise?
- what else have you seen/heard that you liked?
-what other churches have you visited or seen their website that you liked, and what specifically did you like?
- what is the overall budget range, or at least is it low, middle, or high?
- how much headroom or future proof do you want?  Minimal, above average, or dual redundant with a 15 year expected lifespan?
-if audio system, what about acoustics?
- what scope of training is desired? 
-with audio systems, is there a strong desire for line array, vertical array, trap box, or true point source?
-if you are looking for one solution, rather than a list of "black boxes", do you really need line item pricing?  That makes some of the better companies hesitate since it implies "penny pincher".
- what items will you require a demo of?  Ideally demos and fine tuning are done after the company is decided on.
- how does each company handle support? 
-read through the scope of work from each company carefully, ask for clarification/revisions.  Most times, at least in our experience, clients are happy or not based on expectations (scope of work) vs delivered system.
-is follow up tuning included for a sound system, after 6 months or so? 
-who owns the DSP and control system programming files?  Is there a cost or assumption of liability required to go with?

After the proposals are submitted, sit down with each company, ideally the person who did the design, and go through why it was designed as it was. 

Seems like you're off to a good start. 
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Rob Spence

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Re: What is in a good RFP?
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2016, 06:12:04 PM »

I would argue that an RFP is what each company proposes to meet your requirements.   It's not a bid spec, thus the proposals are just that.
....
Snip
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Seems like you're off to a good start.

I contend that the proposals from each company are the the responses to the RFP (Request For Proposal).

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Cailen Waddell

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Re: What is in a good RFP?
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2016, 09:00:23 PM »

Some of this is why I prefer to, some of the time, hire a design company, and then bid the install.  The government stuff here can be tricky sometimes....  It's debatable whether a designer can bid on the install of their own design.  Depends on your reading of our laws...


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Scott Carneval

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Re: What is in a good RFP?
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2016, 08:42:47 AM »

So -- from the perspective of a installation contractor, what makes a good RFP?  One that gives you enough info to decide if you want to bid?

First you have to decide if you want to hire a design-build firm, or have a consultant design the system and then put it out for competitive bids. There are positive and negative aspects to each. If you have a design-build firm that you know and trust, that's great. But to have several firms submit vastly different designs doesn't really do much good for anyone. It wastes a lot of their time and yours, and doesn't really give you much basis for comparison. You're going to find that not many qualified companies will bid, or take the time to put together a design, when there is no clearly defined criteria. It takes us days, sometimes even weeks, to come up with a complete system design, and most firms won't do that unless they're either being paid for the design, or already have a relationship with the client.

To try to answer your question, one thing I didn't see included in your post was BUDGET. This is probably the single most important factor that you're missing. If you have a budget of $50k and I design a $125k system, I'm automatically disqualified. Conversely, if you have a budget of $125k and I design a $50k system, I will probably be missing a lot of the features and/or quality that you're looking for. But if we don't establish the budget up front, how will I know?

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Bill McIntosh

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Re: What is in a good RFP?
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2016, 09:26:12 PM »

First you have to decide if you want to hire a design-build firm, or have a consultant design the system and then put it out for competitive bids. There are positive and negative aspects to each. If you have a design-build firm that you know and trust, that's great. But to have several firms submit vastly different designs doesn't really do much good for anyone. It wastes a lot of their time and yours, and doesn't really give you much basis for comparison. You're going to find that not many qualified companies will bid, or take the time to put together a design, when there is no clearly defined criteria. It takes us days, sometimes even weeks, to come up with a complete system design, and most firms won't do that unless they're either being paid for the design, or already have a relationship with the client.

To try to answer your question, one thing I didn't see included in your post was BUDGET. This is probably the single most important factor that you're missing. If you have a budget of $50k and I design a $125k system, I'm automatically disqualified. Conversely, if you have a budget of $125k and I design a $50k system, I will probably be missing a lot of the features and/or quality that you're looking for. But if we don't establish the budget up front, how will I know?

I had not thought about separating the design from the install. Since we a church and not a governmental unit, I see no reason that the designer could not bid on the install as well, however my inclination is to have a single company do both.  More political than financial or technical -- one RFP means one time to run the committee gauntlet.

Also see your point on the budget number -- without some sort of explicit target, the respondent to the RFP has to infer a target number based on the size of the room and the rest of the physical parameters. 
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Jason Lavoie

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Re: What is in a good RFP?
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2016, 09:14:41 PM »

I had not thought about separating the design from the install. Since we a church and not a governmental unit, I see no reason that the designer could not bid on the install as well, however my inclination is to have a single company do both.  More political than financial or technical -- one RFP means one time to run the committee gauntlet.

Also see your point on the budget number -- without some sort of explicit target, the respondent to the RFP has to infer a target number based on the size of the room and the rest of the physical parameters.

An RFP will get you several proposals that are all different and need to be evaluated. if you are not able to evaluate them or if you have a committee that is easily swayed by a slick sales pitch full of garbage then you may lose control and end up with a poor value for your money.
hiring a designer to put your needs into tech specs and then write an RFQ and then hopefully help you evaluate the responses may be a better option.

Or not
(has this statement been (tm) by JR?)


Jason
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Glen Kelley

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Re: What is in a good RFP?
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2016, 11:37:23 AM »


So -- from the perspective of a installation contractor, what makes a good RFP?  One that gives you enough info to decide if you want to bid?

If you prefer to PM, I am on the forums a couple of times a week at least.

Thanks!

Bill, in my experience as the "customer", it is absolutely critical that your RFP requires the bidding firms to outline their project management process and identify PM personnel, as well as any other critical project personnel, along with their past experience (Lead installer, lead designer, lead programmer, etc). Almost every major project will hit snags, and how pro-active or reactive the project management team is can make your life easy, or make it miserable. Any firm can supply equipment, some can install it well, and very few can do it efficiently and with little pain. :D 

If you make your RFP too specific it can weed out smaller companies that might be good, but don't have the staff to analyze and respond to a very complex specification. This may or may not be what you want.

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Re: What is in a good RFP?
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2016, 11:37:23 AM »


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