How to Get the Best Test System: 7 Key Factors to Look for in a Proposal
by Jamie Stinson, on Mar 11, 2020
5 minute read
In this blog post, we'll be outlining some of the most important items to look for in a test system proposal.
You've determined that you have a need for test equipment. You've made a business case to management. You've sat down with your engineering team and your test stand operators to outline the requirements. You've set a budget with the finance department and received approval. And you've put out a request for proposal and received quotations from multiple offerors. Now it's time to review the proposals and decide who will be awarded the contract.
How do you know from a proposal that you're getting everything you need? Below are a few key factors to look for in your proposal evaluation. Analysis of these critical items will help you make the best decision on which test system to purchase. Keep reading to learn which key factors to look for.
Compliance to Requirements
The first thing to look for in a test system proposal is its compliance to your requirements.
Probably the most important factor to look for in a quote is whether the proposed system does what you need it to do. Does the offeror meet your technical requirements? Not only that, how does the offeror meet your technical requirements? Is the method of compliance complete? Is it cost efficient? Is it acceptable?
A test system is often a custom piece of equipment that requires your involvement in the design process. You need to know that you can work with the vendor. Does the offeror meet your program requirements? Can you do business well with the offeror? Do you feel confident that they will actively communicate with you throughout the project? How involved do you want want to be in the project? Are there opportunities for your team to be involved in design reviews?
Do not dismiss an offeror immediately if they do not comply to your requirements. Look to understand why they don't comply. Do they explain why they do not comply? Do they instead comply with an alternate solution? Is this solution acceptable? Where does this requirement rank in your priorities? Is this a low-ranking item that you can do without? Is this item up for negotiation?
The next factor to look at is the project delivery schedule. Does the offeror's proposed timeline meet your calendar requirements? Is there additional time required for installation and commissioning? Is your timeline realistic?
Completeness of Proposal
Of course, the test system is the most important part of the proposal, but has the offeror considered everything else required to stand-up the test system? Look for these items, which are commonly missed or overlooked:
- Are unit-specific test adapters included in the price of the test system? Are they quoted separately?
- Are there additional items required for testing that are not included in the proposal (e.g., tooling, approval from the OEM, licenses)?
- Who is responsible for shipping costs? What is the method of shipping?
- Who is responsible for installation? Who is paying for installation?
- Has the offeror included start-up and commissioning of the test system in the proposal?
- Who is responsible for travel and lodging for your personnel? For the offeror's personnel?
- Is there a warranty included in the proposal?
- Have you reviewed the terms and conditions?
You want to make sure that your test solution partner knows what they're doing. Does the offeror have previous experience with this or similar test equipment that makes you feel confident in their ability to successfully execute the project?
Reputation carries a lot of weight in business - you're not going to recommend a company who has a bad reputation. Have you (or has anyone you know) had experience with the offeror? What kind of reputation do they have?
If you've had difficulty with them in the past, why? Was the issue resolved? If not, has the offeror given you any reason to believe that they will change?
Compare the price quoted with your budget. Is the quoted price less than or greater than your budgeted price? How close are they? Is there a large difference? If there is a large difference, there may be a dissonance between the proposed test system and the requirements. Try to understand the difference and decide if the dissonance means that the offeror is not a good fit, or if the system requirements need to be adjusted.
If, in the end, all offerors tick off all of your boxes, how do you decide who gets the contract award? Look at what differentiates each offeror from another. Does one offeror have more experience building this particular test system? Or does another have a great service reputation? Is it easier to do business with one offeror than another? Is there an offeror who has earned more trust in the industry? Is there one company that you think you can better partner with? Which vendor is the lowest risk? Do any of the offerors have an OEM endorsement? Weigh these differences and decide which of them are more important to you.
In the end, all of these factors are critical to your successful operation, but each company weighs them differently. Which of these items is most important to your team? Let us know in the comments!