08 Apr 2017

Don’t Be This Guy. Use an RFP Template for Electronic Plan Review.

gratisography.com/ryanmcguire

 

I don’t need to meet you to know that at some point in your life, you have made this face. The squished-face-to-palm-eyeballs-burning-exhausted-overwhelmed-face looking out at you from the picture above. I’m guessing you made this face because of something at work. Your boss probably asked you to put together an extensive report or document that you had limited turnaround time to create. Or maybe they asked you to review something that was just downright mind-numbing and to provide feedback.

 

Maybe you’re the person responsible for writing out your organization’s Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new software purchase.

Perhaps that was a bit of psychic-level guessing.  Or more likely, you saw the headline of this blog post and thought, “Hey, I’m trying to write an RFP.” Either way you slice it, if that’s the winner, then I’ve been there too. Where do you even start on something like that? What questions should you ask? How extensive should your organizational background be? What information is a necessity and what information is just helpful? It’s so easy to get stuck at the beginning, not sure how to proceed, so I’m going to help you avoid making this face in the future by helping you now.

 

Use an RFP template.

 

A good template will organize your information in a clear and concise manner.

There is so much information that is contained in an RFP that it can easily get overwhelming. Terms of bidding, schedule of events, background of the organization, goals and objectives, existing system architecture and possible software integrations…the list goes on and on. A template can help you approach these logically, laying out the groundwork for a strong base of information pertaining to the organization itself, then expanding to talk about specific goals and objectives and how those might be reached. Starting broad and becoming more specific, your RFP should share the long-term vision in addition to the specifics of how it will be addressed.

 

A good template will provide helpful examples of how to share that information in a way that will be most impactful to respondents.

Maybe you are like me, in that a well-organized chart or matrix is going to be easier to understand than paragraph after paragraph of narrative. While charts aren’t always appropriate, when it comes to an RFP, they are a necessity. Take pricing information for example. What better way to get clear at-a-glance information on cost? And more importantly, what better way to easily compare your bidders? When everyone breaks down their information into the same format – understanding the differences becomes a lot easier.

 

A good template is easy to use.

A template is just your starting point, and as you continue to build your RFP, revisions and modifications will likely be necessary. With that in mind, a template should allow for these changes. Be wary of templates that act as a template wizard. These are the templates that ask for the basic info and then use what you input to create the document on your behalf. While there is something to be said for making things easier, there is such a thing as TOO easy. These often leave little room for editing, modifying, or otherwise. The result is a document that looks nothing like what you want and doesn’t cover what you need. Use a template that’s provided in a word format, and is editable down to the most minor formatting detail. This way you can truly make it yours.

 

So what now?

If you have read this blog and think an RFP template may be helpful – then I’ve done my job. And if you are in the market for electronic plan review, and wish you had an RFP template, I’ve got one for you. Just go to the RFP Template Page on our website, fill out the required information, then download the template.

Whether you choose idtPlans for your electronic plan review platform or not, we want to be sure you start on the right foot in getting your information out there. Download the template today and get started.

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10 Jul 2015

What are the expectations for Electronic Plan Review?

you want it when

Unrealistic expectations are common in the construction industry and lie at the bottom of the ever present sea of confusion, conflict, and confrontation. Pressured by the “time is money” principle owners and contractors will forever be motivated to push for a clearly defined and efficient permitting process.

Well defined Workflows and Business rules are an absolute must whether the process is paperless or not. A good Electronic Plan Review (electronic plancheck) system will provide for unlimited workflows and processes designed to enforce the departments business rules. Just as important is the need to provide clarity regarding the requirements and time cycles of the process. Having an online overview tailored to the unique needs of each stakeholder provides the transparency needed to assure confidence in the process and allay the anxieties that result in constant and unnecessary contact with the jurisdiction.

Realistically speaking there are only a few electronic tools that can help speed an approvers understanding of the numerous complexities involved in a comprehensive review. Accepting this as reality we can move on to focus on the features and benefits that Electronic Plan Review can provide and they are substantial.

The most important, yet least quantifiable, benefit is the level of cooperation obtained when you remove confusion from the equation. People begin to work together as opposed to in conflict with each other. This translates into a good experience for both sides of the counter. It’s a better world when the government can actually help owners and contractors be more efficient and thus more profitable.

To that point, the cost of a paper submittal can be enormous. It’s not uncommon for some jurisdictions to need ten to fifteen sets of submittal documents to adhere to their submittal requirements.

 

 

Eliminating this need altogether can save the development community hundreds of thousands of dollars while helping to improve our environment. After a long history of increasing development fees on a regular basis, it’s very refreshing to a developer to see the jurisdiction actually lowering his cost to do business with the municipality.

Once again, “time is money!” and much of it is saved when the marked up drawings don’t need UPS or FEDEX to reach the respondent. Don’t overlook the cost savings here either…..it can be substantial especially when the shipment has to be expedited. In large building project weeks even months of review time is saved over the life of the project from submission to approval.

  • Applicants
  • Administrators
  • Reviewers/Approvers

 

Applicants come is all sizes. From technically sophisticated owners and developers to the mom and pop operation that just can’t muster electronic resources. A comprehensive Electronic Plan Review system will have a plan B in place to accommodate folks when the best they can do is bring their idea of a porch addition in on a napkin.

 

Administrators require a user friendly interface that presents, in obvious fashion, any critical path issues that have a chance to become contentious. The ability to drill down on the project detail and documentation is a must if the administrator is to provide knowledgeable guidance and advice in the resolution of hot items. Any level of detail should be available to administrators within two or three clicks with no keystroke entries required. Any instructions to the applicant such as Comment Letters, Correction Notices and Approval Letters need to be configurable, selectable and auto fill with all copies automatically archived to the project files..

 

Reviewers should expect to be able to access an organized task board showing all projects that have been assigned and what the priorities and due dates are. An intuitive markup tool set and comment library are absolutes. Status alerts and noticing keeps the reviewer abreast of changes in priorities and deadlines. Being able to work remotely is a huge advantage in managing the occasional yet eventual “Crisis”……walt

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