5 Steps to Get the Best Result out of an AV Contractor Tender Selection

Hi! My name is Adrian Magno. I’m one of the Senior Engineers here at Konnectus. Today, we’re here to talk about Tender Management.

So, you put up an AV Design and you’ve gotten a bunch of responses from the different AV Contractors. How do you evaluate which one is the best one for you? So, Dave is it all about price? Well, a lot of people would think yes, it’s all about price. If I get the best price, then I’m set. That’s the best deal, it’s all about price. Drill everybody down ‘til I get the best price. Get that price, walk away. That’s what, seriously, most people think. But if you’re doing that, that’s really selling yourself short. You’ve probably not going to get the best fit for your project or for your company as a whole.

There’s a lot more to it than that and we’ll get into that later but, well, it is important to evaluate price Adrian. And the way we like to do it is break it down, we evaluate the equipment, the software, and then the label all separately, okay? The equipment, we’re just trying to look at the particular models, or similar types of equipment from different companies and just see that, first of all, where they assemble a pricing and via the competitive markup pricing. Then, the same thing with the software really, same kind of process. And then the labour, you just want to get it so that it’s not too light, not too heavy. Just right. Kind of the Goldilocks Principle there. And that’s the basically. And so, do that evaluation of price and have that comparison and very important step but definitely not the only step.

I understand. I mean if you did an AV Design, I suppose, made by an AV Consultant, for example, wouldn’t the price for equipment all be the same anyway? I suppose if it was one of our designs where we had specified all the equipment and, basically, just comparing the three of four different AV Contractors for the same bit of equipment, yeah, sure it’s a very easy comparison and it’s quite quick. So, I guess, it’s one of the benefits of doing it that way. It’s very quick and easy to evaluate the price. It would be.

What if you’ve done the things you were saying, you’ve broken things into equipment and labour and you’ve done a bit of apples to apples comparison, but you’ve noticed that one of the tenderers is 20% cheaper than everyone else. Does that start to make you feel uneasy or..Oh no! It doesn’t make me uneasy. I couldn’t care less. I’ve just got a job to do and that is to evaluate, dig a little deeper, and make sure that we’ve uncovered all the stones and done the proper due diligence.

What that is telling me is let’s go on to the next step which is evaluate that particular contractor for compliance with the design. Let say, for example, they’ve missed a system type, or large piece of equipment somewhere, or a room type, or even a quantity of room or systems, just clerical errors. That happens all the time. So, that’s something we’re going to check for. It’s the first thing.

The other thing we might be checking then is okay, if it wasn’t a hard spec design, if it was maybe a performance specification that was given and the design is on the AV Contractor to put together, well, let’s go have a look at that design and evaluate it against the performance specification. So, is the equipment up to scratch, up to specification? Is the design they’re putting forward going to work? It is going to give the actual user requirements that the customer is looking for. Just want to evaluate a little deeper at that level. And, quite often, we’ll uncover in those two steps, quite a bit and the price they might go back up and be in line with the others.

So, I know my wife, her eyes light up every single time she sees, she goes to a store and see something mislabeled with the wrong price, so, then she’ll go right up to the clerk and say “This is what it says, this is essentially what I’m going to pay”. Is the same, I suppose, in the Tender Environment? Can you hold an AV Contractor the clerical errors?

Well, absolutely. You give them a chance. This is how we roll. We have specified in our documentation that we’ve done a clear design and we’ve specified all the equipment and from there on, it’s up to the AV Contractor to make sure that they have included everything to make a fully functioning working system as per the design intent. It does depend on the actual contract at the end of the day. So, if they’re following our contract, then, well too bad really. It’s written there and if you’ve made clerical mistakes, I’m sorry but..Yes, fair enough.

I did want to ask you. If there’s still much cheaper, does it send alarm bells, or is there something wrong? Potentially. So, we need to dig a little deeper again. So,we’ve obviously looked at the price, and then we’ve checked for compliance with the design. And now the next thing we need to look at is TEAM. So, there’s lot of AV Contractor companies out there and they have plenty of experience and they’ve done fantastic projects and they can show you all of those as examples and you can call up for reference and things like that. You should do that step.

But, what I’m more interested in is who’s the actual set of team members that’s going to be on that project. I want to see their names. I want to see their CV’s. I want to see what percentage of time is allocated to the actual project. They have to be the right set of people for this particular project and for this particular customer. So, it’s quite a bit of work there to go through and make sure that all lines up. If it’s, maybe, not the right team. Maybe, they don’t have enough experience, you’ll find that out quickly. And you’ll go back to the contractor, at least that’s what we do, and we say “Hey, we need you to change the personnel for this reason, or that reason”. And that, therefore, may affect their price, to be honest. They may have to lift it back up again. So, very important.

So, I have a few tenders that have come in and, I suppose, the CV’s of the different people on the team haven’t been provided. What do you do in that instance? I just insist, “I want to see the CV’s. Very important”, as I say. They might not be used to giving that level of information and that’s fine. But we are quite thorough in that process because it’s a very important step to get the right team of people on that project for that particular customer. So, we just want to do our homework and make sure, it’s like when you hire someone, you want to do your background checks and things like that. It’s the same thing when you’re hiring a contractor to do work for you. I understand.

There’s one thing that you mentioned Previously, the fit. So, you were saying an AV customer needs to be the right fit for the AV contractor. Yes. Do you mean, personality wise, you don’t want to make a head strong project manager with a head strong AV contractor because they might bicker. Is that what you mean by that? Look, personality can come into it. I probably don’t go that deeper very often. In terms of project manager, you do want someone who’s pretty head strong and sort of smash heads when required. That’s actually a good trait to have as a project manager because you’re going to hit those deadlines.

However, what I’m really thinking about is more the long term. Well, maybe there’s two things I should mention. The first is, what’s the approach this company has. We’ve looked at price. We’ve looked at compliance with the design. We’ve looked at the right team of people. What’s their approach, actually, to delivering the project? Quite often, there’s going to be, in a big one, there’s, maybe, a builder involved, and they want to have a construction program. I’d like to go back to the AV Contractor and say “Hey, this is the current construction program. What’s your program to fit in with that to deliver this AV solution?”. And that’s actually a good test because then they’ll come back to you with what they think is right and you can clearly see do they know what they’re doing? Do they have the right approach? Have they done this before? Are they going to work well with a particular builder? And even when it’s nota builder, maybe, it’s a smaller project, ask them then to do that to see what’s their program, what’s their approach and methodology. You can clearly see if they know what they’re doing. If they have the experience that they say they do. So, that’s important to see if they’re the right fit to deliver the actual project.

The other big thing, in terms of fit, is kind of long term.  So, yes, we’re going to get that project delivered and it’s going to be delivered well but after that, what happens? Does this company have the ability to service and maintain that equipment or that solution for the customer? So important. And so often I overlooked. It’s probably one of the things I feel more strongly about, most passionate about because Month 1, or month 11, or year 3 down the track, if there’s an issue with equipment, or a solution, or something, and those poor people are trying to use it and just getting frustrated, who you’re going to call? They need to have a plan in place, and it needs to be a reliable company providing their service.

Just before we go, thank you so much for all the information. It’s been very informative. One of the problems I do generally run into when we come to these steps of our providing solutions to our Clients is when you have three tenderers and their all basically 1%, 2% difference in price. You’ve called all the different qualifying bodies and made sure that all the teams put forward are all adequately qualified, labours are relatively even, equipment’s are relatively even. How do you choose between three things that basically looked exactly the same?

In all my years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never seen that happened. If you go and do all of those five steps that I just talked about, you’ll find there’s going to be a clear winner. If you only do the first couple of steps, or even the first three, yeah you will have that dead hit sometimes and then what you’ll do? Just flip a coin, I suppose, because you can’t go any further. That’s not really the right approach. If you cover all those five steps, you’ll actually always get a clear winner who is the best long-term fit and project fit for the customer. So, that’s what I’ll recommend.

Thanks Dave. No problem. Thank you.

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