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The process of evaluating and choosing the most qualified control system integrator (CSI), at the best value, may be the most critical decision that affects overall project success.
Obviously most end-users are not in the business of being a control system integrator, and therefore many do not have the expertise to properly compare and contrast CSI's in a competitive, evaluated bid process.
Good Process, Good Choice
With a well-defined selection process in place, the most
qualified CSI rises to the top. A good choice here ensures
healthy collaboration and project success down the road.
Today's control systems often include intrusion monitoring , alarming, and the automation of processes in the event of these alarms; activities that may directly impact the safety and security of the public at large. Choosing the most qualified CSI is serious business.
These categories allow you to develop a decision matrix (Figure 1):
¬· Eligibility & Unique Features
¬· Project Understanding
¬· Hardware and Software Recommendations
¬· Project Approach
Figure 1: Decision Matrix
Choosing a qualified control system integrator is serious business
--a good decision matrix can help.
Eligibility: This category may be useful for scoring a company's stability beyond that established as minimum requirements. In other words, if you require a CSI to be in business for more than five years and the CSI you're evaluating has been in business for 30 years, your grade here could reflect this advantage. Areas to consider include:
¬· Firm's annual integration services gross revenue
¬· Firm's Size (# of employees)
¬· Number of Engineers on staff
¬· Turnover ratio (for the past 5 years)
¬· Years of service & experience per employee
¬· Financial Rating (Dunn & Bradstreet, etc.)
¬· Adequate Errors and Omissions insurance, as well as minimum bonding capacity
¬· Licensed Engineering Firm (length of time)
¬· Listed UL-508 panel shop, integral to the CSI
¬· Evidence internal company practices, policies and standards (may include Mission & Vision statement)
¬· CSIA Registered Member status
Unique features: This category gives you an area to score a company's unique characteristic that can be of value to your facility. Consider features that may not necessarily fit well into any other category. Overall company reputation or industry involvement in support organizations, (such as the AWWA, WEF, PNCWA, ISA, CSIA, OAWU, ERWA, APWA and MCAA) could be graded in this section.
Does the company seem to have a good understanding of your organization's goals, both short term and long term? Is the CSI providing in their scope of supply what was specifically specified?
Hardware & Software Recommendations: In order to grade this category, you must first know something about the different hardware and software manufacturers that are on the market and available. You may decide to make your selections first, thereby eliminating this category. All CSI would then be required to provide the same equipment. Common hardware manufacturers include Rockwell Allen-Bradley, Siemens, Modicon and others. Software manufacturers include Wonderware, RSView, Intellution and many more. Several items to consider when selecting these components include:
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