Understanding the RFP Process

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Feb 25, 2012

Dealing with RFPs (or Request for Proposals) is a major component of buying or selling video surveillance systems as large projects typically use them. The process, however, can be complex with many stages and nuances involved. In this note, we explain the RFP process, breaking down the 9 key stages of RFPs:

  1. Notification of solicitation
  2. Deciding to respond
  3. Prebid meeting/walkthru
  4. Request for Information, or offically asking questions
  5. Engaging manufacturers/distributors
  6. Submitting a response
  7. Bid Bond
  8. Bid Opening
  9. Award

Notification of solicitation

For an integrator, getting notice of RFPs early is a key consideration to maximizing success. Here are common options

  • RFP finding service (ie: findRFP, Bidsync)
  • Institutional,Municipal or Government purchasing websites (ie: fbo.gov, merx.com)
  • 'Approved' Bidders lists - lists of eligible subcontractors manually compiled by purchasing departments. Integrators often must ask to be added to these lists.
  • Word of Mouth - Integrators are informed of these leads by talking with distributors or manufacturers 

The sooner you get word, the better chance you have of shaping the RFP and winning the project. As such, while more time consuming, word of mouth tends to provide higher probability targets than finding a bid online.

Deciding to Respond

Responding can be very expensive. A large proposal can take several days or a week of devoted effort, from different resources in your company. A bid response requires the collabortive inputs of technical, sales, and financial disciplines. The overhead cost of issuing a quote can be significant and deflect resources from performance in other projects.  

Integrators are forced to consider the project's impact on cashflow, other project obligations, human resources planning, and the net benefit of winning the opportunity. The fundamental question weighed is: Is this project right for us? This simple question can have a complex answer, unique to each opportunity.  (We plan to examine this subject in a future update.)

Reviewing the RFP itself may reveal a bias toward a specific equipment vendor or integrator. Even if you proceed in issuing a reponse, can you furnish equipment at a competitive cost compared to your competition? Before moving forward with a response, many integrators will analyze the opportunity and make sure it is a good fit for their company.

Prebid meeting/walkthrough

Most of these opportunties will include a 'pre-bid walkthrough' of the project site or some meeting that formally introduces the project to interested integrators.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

This might be your first chance to lay eyes on the customer and project. It is common to visit physical locations important to the opportunity, like proposed camera locations, data closets, and control rooms. These walk-through opportunties are vital for explaining things not easily conveyed in RFP documents.  

This meeting will allow you to observe operations of the organization buying the system. This knowledge will guide you to understand which products are the best fit for the opportunity. 

Request For Information, or 'officially asking questions'

To avoid the appearance of collusion or sharing valuable information to only a few parties, RFP solicitors may formally define the way to ask questions. A pre-bid meeting and walkthrough will uncover some questions that the RFP documents do not adequately answer. Your method of submitting questions will be clearly defined by the solictor.

On the backside of prebid meeting, 'official' questions are answered and distributed to group of attendees. The window to submit questions might be very brief, and the answers to those questions may be furnished very close to the submission deadline. 

Engaging Manufacturers / Distributors

Not all integrators feel comfortable involving outside parties in responding to bids. The risk of having information leak out about response details keep some integrators guarded in sharing with outside sources. However, the benefit of having special pricing approved for the opportunity could make the difference in winning the job.

Very quick decisions have to be made on which equipment to propose. The sooner you contact your vendors expressing intent to propose them for the job, the better chance you have at getting the full benefit of project pricing.

Submitting a response

This step is where your previous work comes together. Working thorugh the bid package is often more than just determining a price to perform work. Information the bid package may ask you to provide include:

  • citing similar project experience,
  • referral letters from current customers
  • occupational liscense numbers
  • business credit rating report
  • your business tax identification numbers and NAICS/SIC classifications
  • defining a schedule of performance for the job
  • describing quality control processes
  • short descriptions of your company's team members

Bid Bond

Bid bond is a surety that demonstrates willingness and obligation of the integrator to perform work. If the integrator declines to perform the awarded contract for any reason, then the integrator will forfeit the bond. This bond assures a response is serious and backed by real money. This bid bond will be returned to all bidders after bids are opened, and is simply asked to express the sincerity of a bid submission. Asking an integrator to issue a bid accompanied by the bond prevents bogus bids - random, unqualified, hasty responses - from entering consideration.  

The bid bond is a check or bank note that is submitted with a bid. The amount of the check is often calculated to be a percentage of the the total bid amount. After the bids are opened, the unselected bidders have this bond returned.  The winner has his bond kept until work is finished.

Bid Opening

At the point all bids are recieved, they will be opened and compared. Sometimes this opening is held in private, and other times this bid opening is open for public viewing. Public bid openings provide a valuable opportunity to see where your company compares to competition. Even if your not entitled to a public bid opening, consider sending a request of bid results to the Project Solicitor. They are sometimes willing to share bid results with you by phone or if directly asked. Paying attention to results can help you understand how competitively you can buy certain equipment, and how competitive your labor rates stack up to competitors.

Award

The culmination of all your hard work is the notification of award. Some type of formal notification will inform you that you are the chosen vendor. This notification of award is often accompanied by a customer's PO number that indicates you may begin accuring expenses against your newest project.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Ubiquiti Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 18, 2019
Ubiquiti has quietly grown into a $1+ billion annual revenue company, with offerings across wireless, wireline network and video surveillance (see...
Uniview / UNV Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 12, 2019
Uniview / UNV, the self-proclaimed #3 China manufacturer, while starting late, has been working to make inroads internationally. In IPVM's 2019...
Barnes Buchanan 2019: Despite 'Strange Narrative' Great Time To Be In Security on Feb 11, 2019
A "strange narrative" is being spun, said Michael Barnes at the 2019 Barnes Buchanan Conference. However, despite that narrative, it is a "great...
FLIR Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 08, 2019
FLIR has had a challenging past few years including FLIR Security business struggling, FLIR restructuring their security division and FLIR selling...
Sony Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 06, 2019
Sony Favorability amongst integrators improved moderately compared to their 2017 favorability results, with a modest net positive...
Hanwha Techwin Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 31, 2019
Hanwha Techwin's favorability results surged, in IPVM's 2019 study, going from barely neutral in 2016 to strongly net positive, as the results...
Vivotek Favorability Report 2019 on Jan 29, 2019
Taiwanese video surveillance manufacturers, even relatively large ones like Vivotek, have lost ground in the PRC-China-driven race to the bottom....
Genetec Favorability Report 2019 on Jan 25, 2019
Genetec's favorability moderately strengthed, in new IPVM integrator statistics over their results from 2017, with 2019 results showing solid, but...
Bosch Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 23, 2019
Bosch's favorability moderately strengthed, in new IPVM integrator statistics over their results from 2017, with 2019 results showing strong net...
Milestone Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 21, 2019
Milestone's favorability moderately strengthed, in new IPVM integrator statistics over their results from 2016. While the industry has been...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Outdoor Camera Mounting Hardware Guide on Feb 21, 2019
Mounting cameras outdoors can be challenging, requiring understanding different types of equipment and methods. In this guide, we teach this...
HID Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 21, 2019
HID favorability results were strong, in the 2019 IPVM integrator study of 200+ integrators, with a net +62% and low negativity as the table below...
First US State, Vermont, Bans Dahua and Hikvision on Feb 21, 2019
The first US state, Vermont, has issued a ban on a number of Chinese and Russian manufacturers including the world's 2 largest video surveillance...
ADI 'SAVE BIG' On FLIR And Hikvision Examined on Feb 20, 2019
One is a major US defense supplier. The other is owned by the Chinese government. But you can "SAVE BIG" on both at ADI. In this note, we...
BluB0x Company Profile on Feb 20, 2019
BluB0x has doubled in revenue every year since its founding in 2013, according to CEO Patrick Barry. We originally reported on them in 2015. At the...
Security Installation Tools Guide - 22 Tools Listed on Feb 19, 2019
In this guide, we cover 22 tools that security installers frequently use. This is one part of our upcoming Video Surveillance...
Sales Cuts At Rasilient on Feb 19, 2019
Over the past 2 years, video surveillance storage specialist Rasilient has expanded its workforce significantly, aiming to build its own branded...
Exacq Raises VMS Software Pricing Twice in Less Than a Year on Feb 18, 2019
Most VMSes regularly release new features, but rarely increase their prices. For the 3rd time in 4 years, and 2nd time in 8 months, since being...
Axis IR Multi Imager Camera Tested (P3717-PLE) on Feb 18, 2019
Axis has released their first IR multi imager, the P3717-PLE, a repositionable model listing 360° IR illumination and flexible positioning,...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact