(Note: The following has been submitted as a guest post to CommScope Blogs by Thor Warner, Director of Design and Engineering at LINX. LINX is a member of CommScope’s PartnerPRO Network and provider of IT networking solutions in the United States. Opinions and comments provided in this guest post, as with all posts to CommScope Blogs, are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CommScope.)
Let’s face it, not all bids are created equal. You must spend the proper time scope leveling to achieve the best results.
First, start by comparing the basics--cable footage, number of jacks, and patch panel count. Are they comparable? If not, a conversation is in order. The cost of cabling alone is usually 30-35 percent of a bid, so it’s important to get it correct. One bid could be less money in the beginning, however, “we forgot about this” additions during the process could increase the total cost more than the higher bids. Beware of the bait and switch.
What other hidden line items should you ask about? How about basic consumables that every job needs--tape, screws, trash bags and anything else you need during the day. Depending on the size and duration of a job, it can add up.
Cable comes in 1,000- or 3,000-foot spools. Consider a project that calls for 105-foot runs of cable. Nine runs would use 945 feet of cable (9 runs × 105 feet = 945 feet), leaving 55 feet of excess cable. Does the bid account for the unused cable in every spool?
Consider the pathway your cable gets routed in. A properly designed solution will route your cable along common office pathways, like hallways, providing you flexibility in the future. The shortest route from point A to B may save you cable costs today, but would likely create chaos down the road. What happens when you need to access it later? You’ll have techs on ladders straddling cubicles disrupting the work day or it will need to be completed after hours, meaning overtime. If you want to further future-proof your installation, be sure to get 5-foot or 10-foot service loops included for future upgrades. This recommendation means it’ll be there, ready to go, when you need it.
Figure out how the bidder will handle change orders. Look for a company that guarantees their bid and won’t introduce new change orders unless a client requests something outside the original scope. Know the ground rules before the start, unless you like surprises.
The value of a good project manager is not to be overlooked. They take care of scheduling technicians, making sure materials arrive on time and doing everything else to keep your project moving forward. Does the bid include a project manager for the project? They will be your go-to person for any questions. Some bids include product managers into the overhead cost. If so, make sure they provide you with enough of their time and attention. Make sure to ask how many other projects they will be on.
Consider the size of the bidding company and their ability to work with your schedule shifts. Your project calls for about eight workers but company B only has a total workforce of 12. What happens if a schedule shifts and the job gets pushed back a few weeks? Do they have enough qualified labor to complete your project on time and on budget?
Does company B have enough capital to buy materials up front? Company B could only be approved for 1X credit, while company A has 2X or more. The workers can’t do their job without the product. In terms of product purchases, is freight included in the bid? Last minute overnight shipping adds up quickly, as does four to six percent of unforeseen taxes.
Taking the time to scope level your project now can save you time, money and headaches in the future.
“If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?” ― John Wooden