Often, business leaders concentrate too much on templates for their security request for proposals (RFPs). When inviting proposals from security firms, templates lead businesses to get bogged down in extensive checklists. An RFP for security services doesn’t have to be complicated. Nor does it need to follow a particular format. All it needs to do is help the business find the right security system integrator for the job.
How to Avoid Common Errors in Requests for Proposals
A standardized RFP will yield standardized results. That’s a good thing, as it makes it easier to compare proposals side by side. However, businesses want to make sure standardized RFPs for security services adhere to these four guidelines before sending.
1. Make the RFP Specific to the Business.
The backbone of your RFP should detail the product and installation standards required. It’s okay to use a pre-made template, but businesses should ensure the RFP is personalized for that business. This includes identifying:
- The product set wanted.
- Details on products and installation standards required
- Current configurations to include device, cable, and standard panel schematics
The more detail provided, the more accurate a security company can be with their quote. Do not leave any stone unturned here. Identify everything including device, cable, and standard panel configurations. If you have a trustworthy integrator, they will be more than happy to help with this. While the integrator will review all this on their own, offering it up front lets everyone know what to expect.
2. Don’t Focus Too Much on Cost and Budget.
Being too quote-focused in an RFP may be less cost-effective over time. Setting a firm price point may give businesses a system they can easily afford, but it might not be the system needed. If you decide to set a hard budget for a security system without doing your homework, you may end up with a system that will not meet your expectations and will cost you more over time.
Until a full review is complete, it may be difficult to gauge the exact needs, so flexibility is essential. While it is critical to discuss the budget, it should not be the primary focus of an RFP. Businesses should give ballpark spending estimates and allow integrators to take the lead and provide an accurate budget. A trustworthy integrator will give you a fair price for the system once all needs are identified.
3. Avoid Creating and Leaving Loopholes.
The RFP needs to give enough information to allow all integrators to provide accurate quotes. With poorly designed RFP specifications come loopholes. These open the door for low bids that then lead to massive scope creep further in the project. If there are significant gaps between quotes, the business has likely not been detailed enough on required specifications.
4. Include a Central Vision in the RFP
An RFP needs to align with the business’ broad, overarching security goals. What is the company’s long-term infrastructure desire, and will the services and equipment resulting from this RFP conform to it? Defining this in the RFP will hold integrators accountable for providing this service. This overarching goal is the big picture. All the smaller moving parts need to work towards meeting it.
By following these RFP security system guidelines, businesses equip security integrators to make recommendations based on exact needs. The best security integrators, however, will also offer an on-site visit so they can make their determination firsthand.
Why an On-Site Visit Is Necessary
No RFP will ever give an integrator all the information needed to provide a quote accurately. When allowed to review facilities, integrators are more likely to include precisely what the system needs. With an on-site visit, the integrator can determine the following:
Physical layout and infrastructure requirements:
The integrator will need to assess the location to determine things like:
- How much cable is required for the project?
- Are there conduit requirements that will need to be considered?
- Is there available electrical capacity for the new devices?
- Are the perimeter management, access control, and surveillance requests in the RFP adequate for the physical space?
- Where is the best placement for required head end equipment?
- Does the property already have the typical mounting surfaces to install devices?
- What exactly will the installation entail?
By knowing precisely what is available, the integrator will be better prepared to explain what’s needed. Questions they will focus on include:
- Is a new video surveillance server required or can storage be added to the existing one?
- Is there existing equipment with capacity for new devices?
- Is there capacity in existing power supplies?
- Are there existing devices currently installed that do not need to be replaced?
- Does any existing hardware require additional equipment above what the RFP specified?
Areas of concern or note:
This will specify things the RFP didn’t mention, but that could be vital.
- Are there areas where there should be enhanced security not requested in the RFP?
- Are there any programs like visitor management, records databases, and shooter detection systems that the organization could benefit from, but aren’t on the RFP?
- Is documentation needed for any potential red flags, existing equipment, or requirements that could cause issues with the security system later?
The brunt of the work in a security proposal process should not be creating the RFP itself. It should be evaluating the responses to that RFP. Following these four tips will simplify RFP creation, and result in strong, specific proposals to compare. That allows businesses to find the company who best understands their project’s true scope. The chosen integration partner will then deliver the results that best align with a company’s security goals.
3Sixty Integrated offers a full, on-site assessment completed by certified security integration experts. Our engineers will take your RFP a step further by providing a comprehensive security blueprint designed explicitly for your needs. Call (210) 545-1770 or contact us to set up a complete security review.