Interested in linking to "More Than a Beauty Contest"?
You may use the Headline, Deck, Byline and URL of this article on your Web site. To link to this article, select and copy the HTML code below and paste it on your own Web site.
How does the company plan to approach the project? Will each of the project elements be met with the professionalism and the kind of expertise you're looking for? Are the tasks and the project schedule realistic and well laid out? Have project milestones been identified and a plan presented that will accomplish them?
Proposal Format: Is the proposal formatted and outlined well? Professional? Readable? Easily understood? This document represents the company's first impression, putting their "best foot forward." It could give you clues to the company's approach to the O&M manuals and other communication documents vital to your projects success.
Support Services: Does the CSI have good post project support? Does the company have a dedicated full-time field service manager? Support 24/7? Does it have the resources necessary to provide the level of service you require? Do they offer an annual maintenance program? How did the firm's references rate its post project support? Is it clear in the proposal that post project customer service is recognized by the CSI as a significant advantage to their organization?
Experience: Does the company and its employees have experience with projects of similar size and complexity? Be sure to consider each element (or task) of your project, especially any design requirements. It's one thing to have completed a project under a consultant's direction, its quite another for a CSI to perform all design-required elements in-house. There also exists quite a gap in experience with respect to SCADA vs. SCADA incorporating full Telemetry
References: Perhaps one of the most important "validators" of a CSI's performance. Is there good feedback on the company's past performance? Assure yourself that the references are representative of the type of project you are considering. Does the CSI develop good relationships with its contractors, consultants, customers and venders? Does the CSI come highly recommended by its references and others you have contacted through your own relationships?
Does the price seem reasonable? Keep in mind that the price listed at this point in the process may be near impossible to determine, especially if the project has yet to be fully designed.
An artificially low price may be a sign that either the CSI has not included (or the CSI does not understand) the full project scope, or perhaps an initial low price is used as a ploy to lure you in; anticipating they will "change-order" the owner and end users throughout project implementation in order to make up the difference.
On the other hand, the price may be on the high side, conservatively taking into account areas yet to be well defined, such as the number of screens, reports, installation requirements and degree of involvement of the municipality.
It is highly recommended that price weigh little, to not at all, on the decision during this stage of the evaluation. We believe the best approach is to focus on selecting the most qualified CSI, such as the case when requesting an Statement of Qualification (SOQ) process. A highly respected and highly recommended CSI could not maintain its good reputation if they were to over inflate their pricing. A CSI unwilling to provide the best value would quickly fall out of favor, scoring very poorly on several of the categories previously covered.
You may decide to add, combine or delete from this list. Vital to the criteria is the "weight" given to each category. Determining the importance, or weight, of each category is the initial step in completing this process. Our experience led us to the following values: Eligibility, 15%; Project Specifics (understanding, recommendations, approach and presentation), 33%; Support Service, 20%; Experience & References, 28%, followed by Price at 5%.
Price weighted at only 5%? Bear in mind that if you're evaluating a CSI's for a performance based, design-build project, your project is not yet designed. A solid price at this point is nearly impossible to ascertain. Your goal at this stage should be to select the most qualified CSI, and leave the determining and negotiating of the price to be taken care of at a later date. It is recommended that an owner seek a SOQ that does not include price, rather than a request for proposal (RFP) that may have a request for pricing.
Once you have assigned the appropriate weight per category, photocopy your matrix sheet, one per CSI, or use an Excel workbook, one sheet per integrator. Then rate each category based on a numerical grade, 0--100. Zero meaning they missed the mark completely, 100 being the highest possible score for that category.
ControlGlobal.com is exclusively dedicated to the global process automation market. We report on developing industry trends, illustrate successful industry applications, and update the basic skills and knowledge base that provide the profession's foundation.