Details are important. The more detailed you are in your RFP, the higher chances of getting responses that are comparable in cost, schedule, and delivery. In contrast, when you provide little detail about the scope, you are giving the Bidder leeway to insert their own scope. This leads to skewed responses regarding price, schedule and services. In turn, skewed responses could lead to potential masking of the most qualified Bidder. Remember, “apples to apples” not “apples to oranges.”
You may think, “I often don’t have all of the details of a project, so I can’t include them in the RFP.” We understand not every project has every aspect of scope in place at the time of releasing the RFP. If this is the case, we suggest tackling geotechnical investigations in a phased approach and/or hiring a Geotechnical Consultant to help you develop the RFP to its fullest potential.
Consider the phased approach.
A phased approach involves two investigations:
- A preliminary investigation to characterize the site, and;
- The final design-level investigation geared toward investigating project specific elements such as structures, retaining walls, deep cuts, deep utilities, deep fills, etc.
Preliminary investigations can be performed during the due diligence phase of property acquisition or during the beginning stages of plan development. A final-design level investigation should probably occur after 60 percent plans have been developed. The phased approach has the potential to save you time and money up front, and as you proceed throughout the timeline of the project.
Geotechnical consultants are seen by many as “the folks who can do borings,” but there are many other services and methods of investigation available beyond traditional SPT borings.
Hire a Geotechnical Consultant.
Geotechnical Consultants are seen by many as “the folks who can do borings,” but there are many other services and methods of investigation available beyond traditional SPT borings. If you are less apt to the ins-and-outs of geotechnical services and all the details that should be included, it may be beneficial to hire a Geotechnical Consultant to assist you in writing an RFP. If you would like, tell your consultant that their firm will not be asked to bid to keep the RFP honest. This would ensure that your RFP is developed with a geotechnical perspective and contains all pertinent details that would support an informed decision.
Also, keep in mind that once you have made a selection, there are still opportunities to adjust scope and fee, if design elements change prior to mobilizing your Geotechnical Consultant.
The last suggestion regarding scope, is to be firm. All too often, we see RFP’s that include a generalized phrase like the following:
“Geotechnical Engineer to advise how many borings are needed to adequately represent soil conditions on site.”
This is not a thoughtful approach when you’re looking for consistency among your responses. Instead, clearly state how many borings you want, where you want them, how deep they should go and whether it is necessary to core rock to achieve those depths. Again, this can change later, but you need to commit to a clearly defined scope for the purposes of the RFP – leave no room for assumptions. If you’re unsure about what should be included in the investigation, we advise hiring a Geotechnical Consultant as mentioned above. If this information is open to opinions and revision, it will be hard to accurately compare scope between competing firms.
On the next installment of this series, we’ll be discussing how deliverables can be one of the biggest influencers when selecting your Geotechnical Engineer.
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Download a PDF copy of The Geotechnical RFP in it’s entirety.