The Bids Are Back… Now What?
If a campus has drafted a good RFP, it should receive responses from three to five qualified integrators. The next step is to compare the bids.
It is best to disqualify proposals for legitimate reasons, such as not interpreting the drawings properly, not abiding by fire and life safety codes, or not following the specifications. “That is probably our No. 1 issue,” says Jeff Fields, senior security consultant for EDI Ltd.“We have to take a fine tooth comb to an RFP for this. We have to ensure their products meet our specs.”
Disqualifications, however, should be done using common sense, not just to thin the pack. “I have heard of bids being rejected because a name was misspelled or the package showed up a minute late,” says Robert Grossman, president of R. Grossman and Associates. “While this may reflect poorly on the bidder, if it turns out it was the best choice for the project but its mailroom person wasn’t on the ball, who are you punishing?”
Bids Must Have Specifics
Much like RFPs, which need to be detailed, bids must include specific and clear information. Every item should have a unit price and be put into spreadsheets so campus security professionals or their consultants can make apples-to-apples comparisons.
Since most bids have some honest mistakes, the person reviewing it may need to make cost adjustments. For example, if an integrator forgets to include fiber optic cable or UPS and these were specified in the RFP, many campuses will add the cost into the bid and adjust the overall price tag accordingly.
Some integrators add equipment that they believe is needed for the project. If the suggestion is a good one that a campus or consultant overlooked, campus officials should go back to the other bidders and give them a chance to adapt their proposals.