“Naïve”, “Uninformed”, “Short sighted”, “Conspiracy Theorist”, “Who are you to tell me how to run my business?”, “What are you rambling about?”
Feel free to copy the above into your hate mail and flame throwing comments.
One of the many value added services we provide is to help our resellers respond to RFQs. How well and how fast we can assist with this process comes down to the supplied documentation. Sometimes the design documentation accompanying the RFQ’s are fantastic. For example, I know that anything designed by Miller, Beam & Paganelli is going to be well documented, with drawings, diagrams, and descriptions that correlate closely to an equipment list. The intent and specifics are clear and easy to cross reference between various sections of the documentation.
And then there are some others…. Aka “some-others”, “s’mother”, or most commonly just “mothers”. You’ve seen these mothers, and who knows, maybe you are one of these mothers. These are the RFQs (and the people who write them) where the documentation is disorganized and equipment list may contain cryptic references to manufactures without part numbers or indication where items go in the various systems. We’re not talking about when we work on an RFP where the customer is looking for design input from the integrator. These are situations where the design is already supposed to be complete and where the customer wants to know “how much will it cost and are you qualified to do this job as specified”. Yet, the poorly documented shell is not what the design customers pay for, this is an intentional obfuscation of a design with the intent to undermine the bid process and secure the “build” portion of a design-build for the self-serving designer.
Yes, this is a competitive industry and I appreciate the need to protect business. At the same time, if a customer pays for a design, with documentation, the “designer” has a responsibility to deliver. The customer generally has no idea that a system designer neglected to include the key information required to turn pile of pdf’s into an intelligible collection – data necessary to complete the system as intended. Considering “CAT-5” may mean as much to an end user as a “category 5” hurricane, how can they know something is amiss? When a designer neglects to include the real documentation in the RFQ documents, they are short changing the customer and potentially themselves.
But how? “If I make it so only I can understand the design, won’t that mean I have a better chance of securing the build for myself?”
Well, maybe. But do you really want to entrust the interpretation of your design to a random company that doesn’t have complete documentation? How will that reflect on you? What will that mean for future design opportunities? What does withholding essential information say about your integrity when dealing with your customers? I’ve been on other sides of this as well… just the other day I received a call from a reseller who had a customer that was not happy with the current system installed by a different firm. The end user was ready to forklift everything and start over – an expensive and potentially unnecessary undertaking. Upon further conversations, it became evident that the company that had won the original bid put in the right equipment that was well suited for the objectives, but due to limited documentation had not setup signal routing and processing to match the application – and this had been covered during the original design process. At which stage did the documentation fall apart? The customer isn’t just blaming the lowball bid winner, they are not just faulting the equipment, they also think they received a poor design. This could have been a win-win for all parties. Instead, the customer now carries a less-than-ideal impression of all parties: the original designer, the original installer, and the equipment manufacturer. If the original designer was aware of the wide reaching repercussions of omitting key information from the bid documents in a failed attempt to win the build, would they persist with this methodology? I hope not. In the aforementioned case, not only did the designer fail to win the build, they lost the possibility of repeat business with this customer and certainly gained ill will – even after we bent over backwards to try and give all parties the benefit of the doubt.
I recognize this post may be preachy and a wee bit much. Maybe I just need to rant because the hackwork of blind fishing expeditions takes away from being able to help our resellers with real technical challenges or an interest in getting substantive assistance in growing their business. Yet most significantly, I’m tired of seeing end-users not getting what they think they are paying for – a bid-ready properly documented design. Please represent our industry well; be part of the solution and not the problem.