Design-Build - A Better RFP Process?

Author: Ben Wood, Published on Aug 28, 2013

Almost everybody in the security industry has a horror story of a "low bid" system installation that has gone terribly wrong. Many city, county and state government entities are avoiding those pitfalls with a "design-build RFP" approach to procuring video surveillance and access control systems. In this note, we examine the reasons why, take a look inside the design-build process, its potential and pitfalls.

Why Design-Build?

* ****** ** *** ******* *****:

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  • **'* ****: ** *********** **** ** ******** **** **** **-***** ******** *******, many ***** ********** *** ******* ************** ** **** ** ******** the *** ** *** ******* ******* ** *** ******. **** want ** ****** *** ******* *** ****** *** ******** **********, **** sure **** **** *** ******* ** ******* ****, *** ******** any ********* ******* ************ *** ******** ****** ****** **** *** happen.
  • ******** ******** **** * **** ****** **** *** **** **** can ********* ***** ********** *** ***** **** * ******* ****** of ***** **** (** *******) ** ******** ** **********.
  • *** *********** *** ******* *** ** * ******* ******. **** times * ****** ************ ****** **** *** ** ** ******** system ***** ****, * ****** ***** **** **** *** ****, an ******** ******* *****, ** ******/***** ***** **** **** ** encumbered ******* ****** **** *** ****.
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Developing *** ******-***** ***

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The **** ******* ** * ******-***** ***

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  • ********, ** ********, *** *** ****** ** ************ ***** ********, usually ********** ** ***** ***** ** **** *** ******* ****** and ********* **** ********* ** ** ******** ***** ***** *** to ******* ****** ******* *** ***** ******* ****** ****** ** located.
  • **************, ** ********, *** ********* ****-******** **** ** *********** *** documents, ******** **** ** *********** *************** *** ******* ****** ******* ***** numbers ** * **** ** ********** *************.

Responding ** * ******-***** ***

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RFP ******** ***********

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Proposal ****** *** *****

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Why ********* *********** ****** ******-*****

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Risks ** ******-*****

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  • ************: ******** *** *** ******* ********* * *** ** ************, if *****-**** ********** *** ********, ** *** **** **** ** who **** *** ******** ************ *** ********* **** ** *** Q&A.

Comments (5)

From my past experience Deisgn Build bids are code word for "we already have a design with someone we like and they will be awarded." We didn't see a lot of these but found out after the fact that there was already strong ties between the company bidding and the awardee. I agree in a perfect world it would be best but honesty is not prevalent in our society anymore and there are too many closed door deals.

Jason, Good feedback. One question: If they already had a design they wanted, why wouldn't they hard spec that design in such a way that favored / set up the bid to make their preferred person win?

I've seen that too as I'm sure we all have. I don't have a good answer for you though. Maybe they thought the Design Build process would be more resilient to anyone questioning the award? And it was not all of them, just a majority of them seemed to be like that. It was a difficult choice as well for any Integrator. Do you take the many hours it takes to put a good design build together knowing that one integrator has a good foot in the door or do you fold and move onto the next opportunity?

Jason - Any system can be manipulated by politics. In my integrator days there were a few design-build RFP's that I passed on (or should have passed on) for just such a reason. Usually if it's "grooved" for someone you can tell pretty easy by looking at any specification requirements in the RFP.

The representative form the company at the initial walkthrough that does not take notes is my suspect. He is usually a shadow to the future customer or is in the shadows at the back of the room not listening and not asking questions.

In the case of fire systems we have too often found the RFP is not code and would not pass firemarshal's inspection. We now have a dilemma. Do we bid according to specs as all other companies are expected to do and kill them with change orders? Do we notify the possible future customer about the deficiencies and request a correction to be put forth to all bidders? Do we expend hundreds of hours correcting the RFP and not get the bid? Do we pass on the bid? What would you do?

Our policy is to not spend the time repairing someone's specifications if it hits a percentage we have established, was not an accidental omission but intentionally specified to "go the cheap route" and or the customer is not immediately responsive.

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