Developing a Request for Proposal
Developing the RFP involves quite a bit of work, depending on the size of both the project and your organization. The first part of the development process involves analyzing exactly what your current and future needs are. Along with this, you must determine any restrictions and constraints that may be placed upon the system you will install.
Once you know what your needs are and the factors that will constrain you, the next phase is to design the system and determine the components. After designing the system and knowing what components will be necessary, you can proceed with putting together the RFP.
The Needs Analysis
Many people will be involved in the needs analysis, the most important step in creating a RFP, and you must be thorough. One of the reasons this step is important is because you can use this opportunity to establish “buy-in” from others in your organization.
For the sake of this discussion, we must assume that the infrastructure project being planned is at least of medium-sized scope. As one who is in charge of such things, your task may be to handle a simple 20-network node expansion.
Then again, perhaps you have been given the task of overseeing and implementing an organization-wide infrastructure installation or upgrade involving hundreds of users located in multiple sites. In either scenario, the same basic approaches should be taken.
The objective of the needs analysis is to define the specific project. The needs analysis should involve anyone who will be affected by the installation of the system. Depending on the size of your organization, some of the people you will want to solicit advice from include the following:
- Those who are responsible for any type of information technology that will be affected by your project
- The people in facilities and/or facilities management
- The electrician or electrical contractor
- Managers who can help you gain a better understanding of the long-term goals of the organization as they relate to information technology and facilities
Getting Input from Key Players
It is important to get input from upper management and the strategic planners within your organization so you can understand the types of technology-dependent services, applications, and efficiencies that they may require or need to have deployed in order to realize the company’s goals.
Through these meetings, those who are responsible will define the scope of the project, the intent, deadlines, payment terms, bonding, and insurance issues.
All these solicitations of input may sound like overkill, but we can assure you they are not. You may be saying to yourself, “Why would I want to make my life even more miserable than it already is by inviting all of these people’s opinions into my project?” You may be surprised, but by doing so you will, in fact, be making your life much easier.
Plus, you will save yourself a great deal of time, money, and aggravation in the not-too-distant future. Trust us on this one. A little bit of self-induced insanity today will save you from stark-raving madness tomorrow.
All the people from whom you will solicit opinions are going to have an opinion anyway. Furthermore, it is safe to assume that these opinions will be communicated to you about two hours after it is too late to do anything reasonable about them.
In addition, think of all the new friends you will make (just what you were looking for, we’re sure)! Most of these people are just dying to tell you what to do and how to do it. By asking them for their opinion up-front, you are taking away their right to give you another one later. “Speak now or forever hold your peace” strictly applies here.