Request For Proposal

Request For Proposal

Request For Proposal (RFP) Introduction

All journeys begin with a single step. In the case of a telecommunications infrastructure and/or hardware project that is not performed in-house, that first step is the creation of the Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP is essential to the success of your telecommunications infrastructure project.

Anyone who rushes into a project without a clear view of what he or she needs to accomplish will have problems. The RFP is essential for setting the pace of a project that is going to involve both a client and an outside vendor.

You may choose to write your own RFP, or hand the entire cabling design project and RFP generation over to a specialized consulting company.

Another option is to work with the consulting company but do much of the groundwork beforehand. Any of these three choices still requires that you have a good knowledge of generating an RFP.

The consulting companies that can perform the steps documented in this article are made up of experts in their field and can save you time and money. However, for installations smaller than a few hundred locations, you may not need a consulting company to prepare a RFP.

What Is a Request for Proposal?

The Request for Proposal (RFP) is essential for defining what you want designed and built for the physical layer of your voice and data networks. An improperly constructed physical layer will contribute to poor reliability and poor performance.

NOTE: Though certainly medium- and large-scale projects will require a RFP, smaller projects (a few dozen cabling runs) on which you’re working with a trusted vendor do not require one.

The RFP sets the tone for the entire cabling-infrastructure project. The best way to think of a RFP is as a combination of a guidebook, map, and rulebook. It clearly articulates the project, goals, expectations, and terms of engagement between the parties.

In addition, for it to serve your best interests, it must be designed to be fair to all parties involved. A well-thought-out and well-written RFP goes a very long way towards ensuring the success of the project. On the other hand, a poorly thought out and badly written RFP can make your project a nightmare.

Cnetworks having been on both sides of the fence, we have seen the influence that the RFP has on both parties and upon the overall success of an effort. One of the mistakes that we have seen made is that the buyer and vendor often see the RFP as a tool with which to take advantage of the other party.

This is most unfortunate because it sets the stage for an adversarial relationship right from the beginning.

The best way to prevent such a scenario from occurring is by making sure that the RFP clearly describes the scope of the project, the buyer’s requirements and expectations of the vendor, and the responsibilities of all parties involved. Because it is to be used as a rule book, it must be designed to promote fairness.

To create that type of RFP, you or your consulting company must do much legwork to ensure that many of the issues associated with the effort are identified, defined, addressed, and properly articulated in the RFP document. That pre-planning often involves many people.

It is important to remember that although the project involves the installation of technology, it also involves many departments outside of the technology group, perhaps including management, finance, facility management, and legal departments as well as the departments getting the new network.