You are in the market for a new control system and have competitive quotes from several integrators. How do you decide which company to choose from? Is it strictly based on cost?
While awarding the project to the lowest bid may appear to please the bottom line, you need to make sure that the listed price includes all aspects of the project. Here are four questions you should consider when reviewing a project quote to reduce the risk as a customer and future unforeseen costs.
Has the integrator provided a detail proposal in terms of the required hardware as well as a type of executive summary of the functionality to be delivered?
Going through the process of front-end planning helps the integrator assess the number of resources necessary to complete the project within the allotted time and scope.
If you as a customer have made any special requests, then check to see if those special requests are included in the proposal and described properly. Also check the bill of materials against one another. If there is a discrepancy among proposals in the required hardware, you should make sure that you understand why such a discrepancy exists.
Does the integrator have a project methodology, and is it followed?
The integrator should have a set of practices and procedures in place to handle each kind of project. In some cases, it may be beneficial for you as the customer to ask for references or examples of projects that they completed that are similar to the one being quoted.
Check to see if adequate testing is going to be performed before the control systems integrator (CSI) shows up on site – ideally you will be invited to witness these functionality checks prior to the CSI shipping everything to your site. Determine whether you will be providing any testing scenarios for the CSI to perform or will you have the CSI provide all the testing protocol and ensure that the responsibilities for the testing are understood clearly between your staff and the CSI.
Has the integrator performed a risk analysis of the project?
You should ask whether the CSI has performed a risk analysis and if so, ask them to share anything that they have identified as an above normal risk with your particular project whether that be technical or timeline.
Has the integrator documented the complete scope of work?
The integrator should call out any special requirements you have for the project, including specific software, programming language(s), and hardware requirements.
If you have any specific operational limitations such as a maximum hold time for some product that is in process before it must be discarded, then the CSI should have included that information in the proposal to ensure such an important feature isn’t overlooked during development.
When choosing a system integrator, consider all aspects of potential costs – including those above which may not be obvious in the quote. It is BCI’s objective to be the “Best Value Through Start Up”.