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RFP FAQ

 
Single point of contact for all RFP activity is Tim von Hoff he can be reached at  micta@mictatech.org
or 888-964-2227

For questions specifically about the TISA 2013 RFP, please visit this FAQ page.

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Frequently Asked Questions

MiCTA RFP Process

 
  1. How does MiCTA define "Request For Proposal"?
  2. How is MiCTA's RFP different than my organization?
  3. What are the advantages of a collaborative RFP approach?
  4. What are the benefits of using MiCTA agreements?
  5. What participation commitment is a member required to provide?
  6. Why should MiCTA take on our bidding requirements?
  7. Will the collaborative RFP take control away from my purchasing department?
  8. Can I use MiCTA's contract pricing as a negotiation tool with our own preferred vendors?
  9. What does MiCTA do that my purchasing department isn't already doing?
  10. What does MiCTA's basic RFP process entail?
  11. Are members required to participate in an RFP initiative in order to use the resulting agreements?

 
 

1. How does MiCTA define request for proposal?

An RFP is a written solicitation, issued on behalf of the MiCTA membership, encouraging vendors to submit competitive proposals on products and/or services based on aggregated demand, requirements, and specifications, which reflect the needs of the membership as a whole. The RFP document contains vendor response requirements, terms / conditions, standards, and specifications that are either; required, preferred, or optional.

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2. How is MiCTA's RFP different than my organization?

 

 

 

Aggregation of Demand:

MiCTA’s RFP aggregates the demand of member organizations. This demand provides more potential purchasing volume than any one individual institution or organization has to offer a vendor. The higher the sales potential, the more attention vendors will give an RFP/Q.

 

 

 

Member Contributions:

Members are encouraged to contribute in the development and evaluation of the RFP. Members can lend their expertise by drafting sections of the RFP, evaluating vendor responses, contacting references, conducting financial verifications, etc. Member contributions are strictly voluntary, and at the discretion of the Member and their institution / organization.

 

 

 

Competition:

Time is money! Therefore, vendors historically devote more time, effort, resources, and are more competitive when responding to RFP’s with high sales volume potential. In addition, manufacturers and corporations will authorize deeper discounts or "special program pricing" when competing for high sales volume projects.

 

 

 

Contract Usage:

Members, who commit support for the resulting agreements prior to the RFP’s release, strengthen the RFP by providing a minimum sales volume that vendors can use to secure more competitive discounts. Additionally, continued use of MiCTA Agreements further strengthen MiCTA’s position to negotiate deeper discounts during contract extension or re-bid situations for like products and services.

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3. What are the advantages of a collaborative RFP approach?

 

 

 

Participation:

Members determine which RFP initiative they will participate in, and the level of participation by either:

1. Working on entire process from beginning to end,
2. Working on-site with either the Development or Evaluation committee,
3. Submitting product and technical specifications or RFP requirements,
4. Working on off-site processes like references, financials and product testing, or
5. Choosing not to get involved in the current project.
Members are not required to participate in the RFP process in order to take advantage of the resulting agreements.

 

 

 

Project Scope:

Each RFP encompasses the core requirements of the entire MiCTA membership, but also allows flexibility for individual Member purchasing requirements to be met. An RFP can be a detailed configuration list of products and services required that allows a one-to-one evaluation, or an open solution approach where the vendor recommends products and services based on the specifications provided. Both RFP formats allow each proposed solution to be subjectively evaluated on its own merits.

 

 

 

Expertise:

Members, from the various organizations and institutions with an interest in an RFP initiative, are recruited to lend their product/technical, business, and procurement knowledge and expertise. The RFP Development Committee ensures the requirements and specifications of the membership as a whole are addressed, and the Evaluation Committee ensures a fair and ethical process by following good procurement processes and procedures.

 

 

 

Industry Standards:

Development Committee members work together to determine base industry standards that will ensure interoperability of products and/or services in-house as well as between off-site locations. Adhering to industry standards is becoming even more important as sister organizations join forces to run cooperative programs between individual Member locations. Therefore, industry standards are frequently called out as requirements in the RFP document.

 

 

 

Standardization:

Members electing to standardize on brands, models or system configurations will have few, if any, upgrade or interoperability issues in-house or between other Member organizations / institutions. Members, working closely with vendors and manufacturers, accomplish standardization by completing MiCTA’s intense product testing process, which generates a white paper report documenting test results. This paper is posted to MiCTA’s web site for Members to use when making their procurement decisions.

 

 

 

Product Testing:

The RFP provides the opportunity to run objective product testing scenarios with the proposed products and/or services. Testing can consist of anything from a one-day off-site to a 2-6 week in-house process. Members are encouraged to lend their technical expertise to this process in order to put products / services through a full battery of testing scenarios. Upon completion of the testing process, the team consolidates their test results in a white paper report. The white papers include details of the comprehensive testing process, product / service quality comparison, component interoperability and ease of installation / operation rating, and documentation of the quality of technical support services requested during the process. White paper reports are posted to the MiCTA web site, and password protected for Member use only. This service provides valuable information to Members who may not have the time or facilities to product test prior to making a purchasing decision.

 

 

 

Comprehensive RFP Evaluations:

MiCTA’s RFP evaluation and analysis is a multi-phase scoring process. Evaluators subjectively score responses based on the weighted criteria as published in the RFP. The consolidated weighted score percentage becomes the vendor’s "total cost value" ratio. The cost value ratio is applied to each vendor’s cost proposal, which assists in determining the Endorsed (best value) or Approved (very good value) award recommendations.

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4. What are the benefits of using MiCTA agreements?

 

 

 

Time / Resource Savings:

Member organizations / institutions using MiCTA agreements realize in-house cost savings in time and personnel resources, as well as product / service cost savings. Resources saved can then be dedicated to high profile projects that are unique to the organization / institution and has the potential of generating greater institutional cost savings. Additionally, Members are afforded an immediate comfort level with MiCTA selected vendors due to the extensive evaluation, analysis, and verification process conducted prior to awarding an RFP.

 

 

 

Choices:

MiCTA is all about offering choices whenever possible to the membership. Therefore, the evaluation process recommends Endorsed (best value) and Approved (very good value) vendors who supply the same products, services, or categories of products / services. Members can select from various agreements that best meet their individual requirements based on; products and services offered, geographical coverage, maintenance / support services, etc.

Members can even compare just bottom line costs between Endorsed and Approved vendors whenever cost is the sole deciding factor or the organization requires three price quotes to approve a purchase. Multiple agreements for the same products and services not only provide Members with options, but it also motivates vendors to remain competitive during the term of the agreement.

 

 

 

Living Document:

Successful vendors are required to treat resulting MiCTA Agreements as living documents, committed to pass along price decreases upon occurrence, and offer new technology upon market release or product testing by MiCTA. A yearly contract review provides vendors an opportunity to offer additional incentives, products and services, as well as better pricing based on MiCTA purchasing volumes. Therefore, MiCTA pricing will always reflect current market changes. Additionally, Members will have an avenue to pursue leading edge technology to test and/or purchase.

 

 

 

Contract Strength:
 
The strength and value of any contract is determined by end-user usage volume. Therefore, MiCTA Members are encouraged to support the RFP process and successful vendors by using MiCTA programs for their procurement needs. Members supporting MiCTA agreements generate interest among the various manufacturers and industries, which often initiates lower price offerings year after year. When working from a position of strength, MiCTA Members have the power to move technology in directions that is most beneficial to all end-users rather than being most expedient for the manufacturers.

 

 

 

Winners:

Almost everyone is faced with doing more with less -- time, resources, and personnel. MiCTA offers Members an opportunity to actually accomplish more with less by encouraging participation in MiCTA sponsored RFP’s, and utilization of resulting agreements to benefit their organization / institution. Not only will the Member look like a winner, but their organization / institution will also be a winner due to the efforts of MiCTA Members doing good things for the entire membership.

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5. What participation commitment is a member required to provide?

Member participation in the RFP process is invaluable, lends credibility to the process, and provides an element of involvement for the entire membership. Members are not required to participate in any RFP initiative, but strongly encouraged to do so in order to take ownership of the process and potential outcomes. MiCTA covers the cost of meeting rooms, continental breakfast, lunch, afternoon breakout sessions and required office supplies, and Member volunteers are responsible for their transportation to/from the meeting site, accommodations, and dinner. The cost to participate in one MiCTA RFP initiative is less than most Members expend processing one RFP for commodity-type products and services.

Additionally, all Members reap the rewards of "best value"

(Endorsed) and "very good value" (Approved) agreements with vendors who have proven capability to deliver -- whether or not the Member elected to participate in the RFP process. Often Member organizations will opt to publish their own RFP only to find MiCTA programs provide better value than they were able to obtain on an individual basis. Often these Members close their RFP, and take advantage of the MiCTA programs. The RFP process and resulting agreements are made available to all Members at no additional charge.

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6. Why should MiCTA take on our bidding requirements?

Consolidating requirements of many organizations / institutions into one RFP offers vendors a larger sales volume potential, which in turn generates more competitive price points, incremental volume discounts, and "pot sweeteners" not offered to individual or small volume solicitations. Have you ever had an RFP/Q receive fewer responses than required for a competitive bid, with costs nowhere near the price points you were expecting? Vendors standard responses in these situations is either "I don’t have time to cost out such small quantities.", or "Company policy is to respond to projects that have more potential sales volume." With MiCTA’s RFP’s, vendors realize the potential sales volume as well as the recognition value of being awarded a MiCTA agreement. Additionally, Members who elect to participate in a MiCTA RFP initiative also assume part ownership of the results of the project.


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7. Will the collaborative RFP take control away from my purchasing department?

Absolutely not. MiCTA’s goal is to harness the purchasing power of all Members in an effort to drive the market price down while contracting for high quality products and services. Member participation in the extensive RFP process allows them to take ownership of the process and resulting agreements. MiCTA has no interest in replacing purchasing departments, and prefers to form strong working partnerships with Members to provide the entire membership with "best value" and "very good value" solutions at the most competitive costs. MiCTA extends an open invitation to all purchasing professionals to certify the process by participating in the RFP development and/or evaluation.

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8. Can I use MiCTA's contract pricing as a negotiation tool with our own preferred vendors?

All MiCTA Agreement pricing is considered confidential, and for "Members Eyes Only ". That being said, Members using this type of negotiation tactic serve to weaken the MiCTA organization as a whole, and jeopardize the cost savings of those organizations that support the process and utilize the MiCTA agreements. Therefore, Members are encouraged to participate and support the RFP process rather than undermine the foundation of the organization that serves so many so well.


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9. What does MiCTA do that my purchasing department isn't doing?

MiCTA maintains a structured competitive bid process as do most purchasing departments. Where we differ is organizations are often required to accept "low bid prices" without factoring in the value of services before and after the sale, company stability, references, etc. In addition to the bid process, MiCTA brings to the table:

 

 

 

Vast resources in the technology, business, and purchasing fields to tap for technical expertise, industry experience, and business and finance skills
     

 

 

Product testing services including coordination of vendors and Members, development of white paper results, and publishing test results to assist Member making purchasing decisions
     
 
 
Staff and resources dedicated to coordinating and/or providing in-depth project research, extensive proposal analysis, hosting vendor presentations and/or product demonstrations, and sophisticated negotiation skills
     
 
 
Competitive negotiation process that evaluates all aspects of the vendor’s response to determine best offers, and then actively negotiates for additional discounts and/or incentives to benefit the membership

 

All services are provided to Members at no additional charge, which frees up the Member’s resources to devote to high profile projects that are unique to their organization / institution and have the potential to generate significant costs savings.


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10. What does MiCTA's basic RFP process entail?

MiCTA’s RFP and evaluation process is designed to reflect solicitation and evaluation requirements of all Member organizations and institutions. The RFP process and estimated timeline minimally entails the following:

 

 

 

RFP Preparation:  4 to 8 Weeks

Includes solicitation of member requirements and specifications, participation in the development of the RFP, survey of the membership to determine project support, research of product and technical specifications, preparation of draft outline of specifications submitted, meeting with the Development Committee to prepare the final product / technical specifications and edit the RFP, and development of a vendor distribution list.

 

 

 

Release RFP to Vendors & Post Documents to Web Site:  Minimum of 28 days

Includes sending an RFP release notice all vendors on the distribution lists, posting the RFP to the MiCTA web site, placing an ad in a national publication when applicable, holding a pre-proposal conference when applicable, and addressing vendor inquiries and posting responses to the web site.

 

 

 

Evaluation Preparation: On-going process until RFP closing date

Includes solicitation of the membership for volunteers to participate in the evaluation process, scheduling the Evaluation Retreat, preparing a list of potential vendors from the Intent To Respond forms, stamping in of vendor responses, notifying vendors of late responses, and preparing bids and office equipment / supplies for shipment to the retreat site.

 

 

 

Evaluation Process: 3 – 4 Weeks

 

 

 

Initial Response Review: – Approx. 2 - 7 days based on number of respondents
Includes a review of each vendor response to check off all required elements of the RFP, send vendors either a Deficiency Report for missing elements, insert a copy of DR response in vendor’s proposal, and develop evaluation forms for scoring vendors.
 
 
 
 
 
RFP Retreat – Evaluation: Approximately 1- 2 weeks
Includes discussing and distributing a common evaluation form to the committee, conducting the read and scoring of each vendor response, consolidating vendor scores and evaluator comments, sending vendors a Clarification Report, sharing the vendor CR responses with the evaluation team, and coordinating the following processes:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  1. Financial Verification:  review of all financial statements, Annual Reports, Dun and Bradstreet or Credit Bureau reports, contact bank officials and auditors, review Accounting Practices letter, etc.
     
  2. Subcontractors Verification: review all subcontractors that will provide products or services direct to the membership, and contact all subcontractor current and past customer references
     
  3. Customer References: contact all vendor’s current and past customer references
     
  4. Benchmark Cost Proposal: distribute any required benchmark cost proposals to vendors in order to conduct a side-by-side cost comparison between vendors– distribute any required benchmark cost proposals to vendors in order to conduct a side-by-side cost comparison between vendors
     
     
  5. Presentation / Demonstration: schedule vendor presentations / demonstrations or conference call with selected vendors as required by the committee
     
  6. Product Testing schedule any required product testing, develop evaluation form for the process, coordinate the testing process, and prepare a white paper report of the results
     
  7. Best and Final Offer:  Notify vendors of the opportunity to submit a BAFO, submit to the committee for evaluation, update any pricing options, contract terms, etc.
 
 
 
 
 
All evaluation processes tie directly to the Evaluation Criteria and Weight Values defined in the RFP. Vendor scores for each evaluation process is entered into the Evaluation Criteria consolidated scoring sheet, which will determine the vendor’s final cost value ratio. This ratio is then applied to the vendors cost proposal to determine the best overall value and very good overall value proposals.
 

 

 

Recommend RFP Awards: Approximately 2 – 4 days

 

Includes a committee review of the consolidated scoring sheet, evaluator comments and cost proposals for each vendor, discussion of each vendor, motions for recommendation of Endorsed (best value) and Approved (very good value) awards, committee vote for each motion, and preparation of the award recommendation to forward to the respective Boards for review and approval

 

 

 

Project Wrap-Up:  1 – 2 Weeks

 

Includes preparation of a project Web page, process paper, evaluation criteria and weight value chart, Endorsed / Approved vendor award summaries, updated Daily Activity Report, RFP outline, individual vendor award announcements, etc.

 

 

 

Vendor Award Notification and Negotiations:– Varies based on vendors

 

Includes a congratulatory e-mail notifying the vendor of their award, identifies the MiCTA negotiator, requests to schedule the first interaction, and attaches a copy of the MiCTA Master Agreement
 
 
 
 
 
  1. Negotiations continue between MiCTA and the vendors until mutually agreeable contract terms and conditions are approved by both parties
     
  2. Vendors not receiving an award are sent a "thank you for participating" notice

 

 

 

Contract Execution and Member Notification: Approximately 5 – 7 days

 

Includes submitting the final contract to the vendor for signature and executing the returned agreement, an award announcement is posted to the MiCTA web site and Members notified via e-mail

 

 

 

Project Wrap-Up: Posting - Upon Award Announcement

 

Includes posting a project web page, process report, evaluation criteria, individual vendor award summaries, RFP outline, updated Daily Activity Report, etc.

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11. Are members required to participate in an RFP initiative in order to use the resulting agreements?

No Members are encouraged to support their organization by utilizing the resulting Endorsed and Approved agreements whether or not they have participated in the RFP process.

Participation in any RFP initiative is not a Member requirement, and is strictly voluntary. Participation can be as simple as submitting a project recommendation, e-mailing specific product / service requirements or specifications, participating in the development and editing of the RFP’s technical specifications, or on-site evaluation of vendor responses. MiCTA staff encourages and welcomes Member participation all facets of the RFP process.