Your budget and schedule go hand-in-hand – be transparent with both when developing your RFP.
Do not leave it up to the Bidder to develop the budget based on the services requested.
Budget or no budget, communication is key.
It’s important for some form of budget information or cost limitations to be in included in the RFP. If a set budget is not in place, be transparent about the situation and provide a brief explanation about the available funds. This information should be communicated clearly within RFP. Do not leave it up to the Bidder to develop the budget based on the services requested. This leads to a “blind bidding” situation, resulting in skewed responses based on the Bidders’ opinions and not hard parameters.
Be clear and specific about your scheduling requirements.
A clear understanding of the schedule is important to define our overall scope and proposed cost. Recently we’ve seen some very aggressive schedules for large scopes of work. To help you understand the constraints within a geotechnical job, consider the following typical four-week (30 day) schedule:
- Week 1: Notice-to-proceed, call in utilities, collect any publicly available data, and coordinate field work. Note: As mandated by law, there is a 4-day period from calling subscriber location services to the date you can start work.
- Week 2: Complete field investigation and return samples to the lab. Note: We typically consider 100 feet of drilling per day as a benchmark for estimating the duration of field work. This number varies based on weather, breakdown, spacing of the borings, shallow termination, surface and subsurface conditions, an/or if rock coring is needed.
- Week 3: Begin a rough draft of the report and wait for lab to wrap up. Note: Some advanced lab tests have two to three week turnaround times.
- Week 4: Incorporate lab results into the report, senior review of the report, and issue the report.
When trying to meet a hard, 30-day schedule, you’re likely to incur additional costs. In addition to the scheduling notes stated above, drilling late days or on weekends to meet your schedule will impact the budget. It should also be noted that in the summer you should factor in a week or two of lead time due to the increased workload for drillers.
It’s also important to be cognizant and respectful of time for all parties involved – There’s nothing like burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline only to follow up a week later and hear “Oh yea, I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet.”
If you’re acting on behalf of a project Owner, let them know that narrowing the window could result in a higher fee than originally budgeted.
To eliminate some of this pressure and incurred cost, we suggest sending out your RFP several weeks in advance of your required start date, and include a 45-day schedule instead of the typical 30-day schedule. If you’re acting on behalf of a project Owner, let them know that narrowing the window could result in a higher fee than originally budgeted.
If there is a hard date to meet based on a transactional requirement or planned delivery milestone, share it with the Bidders. Otherwise, make sure your window is reasonable for the scope you have requested. Including the arbitrary 30-day schedule in the RFP because the last RFP said the same, is not a good measure of practice.
In addition, consider the following questions when developing the schedule requirements in the RFP:
- Does the site need clearing in order to drill?
- Does the drill crew need to go through a form of safety training, drug testing, background checks, or site orientation before they can start work on-site?
- Does the project have any time constraints outside of 7am to 6pm, Monday through Friday?
- Does the project have any site access issues like locked gates or secure areas where the crew’s access is contingent on other people?
All of these items should be considered when writing the RFP as they directly affect the schedule of geotechnical services and will likely incur additional costs. Remember, the more specific we are in our RFPs, the better chances of getting responses that are on a level playing field – “apples to apples” not “apples to oranges.”
On the next installment of this series, we’ll conclude with the importance of selection-factors and dissecting your bidders’ responses.
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Download a PDF copy of The Geotechnical RFP in it’s entirety.