Bidding Out Your AVL System – Part 4

Selecting a consultant or design-build partner is the most important step of this whole AVL design process. How do you take the time to get to know this person in order to make a wise decision for your project?

Thank you for joining us for Part 4 in our series. So far, we’ve presented:

Now, we’ll finish our series by addressing the final phase of AVL Design – Bidding out your AVL system.

Design-Build vs. Design-Bid-Build

The design-build process has long-time been a trusted method of going about a project. This is where the owner hires an AVL contractor to do the design and installation of the desired systems. The benefits are typically a quicker turnaround, lower costs, more efficient process, great for small, medium and some larger projects.

If an owner has an existing and trusted relationship with an AVL company, this process is typical and helps continue to build on the professional relationship. If the owner does not have an existing relationship with an AVL company, then I highly recommend doing an RFQ (Request for Qualifications). This will allow the companies you invite to participate in the RFQ in order to bid on their qualifications. As the owner, you can then interview each company, their history, work type, maybe visit some places they have done projects, and other criteria. In this process the owner can develop trust in a company they would like to select to work with.  At the point of selecting the company, now a design-build agreement comes in to play and you can proceed with the project.

The design-bid-build process is a bit more involved. This is typically what happens when a consultant is involved, and the owner decides to bid out the design and make a decision on the AVL contractor based partially on price, and partially on qualifications. The benefits of this process include less risk on the outcome of the project. It’s typically a safer approach. In a large project, this allows AVL companies, less skilled in design but highly skilled in the installation process, to bid and participate in the project.  The downside to this process is it incurs greater cost and takes a lot longer. Every consultant is different and as a result, the level of quality of design will vary. The lower the quality of a design, the more difficult it is to bid a project and get apples-to-apples comparison from bidding companies.  On the flip side, if a consultant has a thorough set of drawings, a complete design, a list of equipment and quantities, in other words, a complete design, then the bidding will go very smoothly and the decision process can focus more on qualifications of a company and less on validity of pricing, major budget gaps and so on.

Selecting a consultant or design-build partner is the most important step of this whole process. Don’t be afraid to take your time with this process. Plan accordingly to allow yourself enough time to really get to know who the players are.  Hear out their approach to your project and make a healthy decision based on this time spent and knowledge gained.

Some Final Thoughts

I hope this AVL series and overview helps explain the possible extent of a project. Every project is different and requires a different approach. If you are unsure of how to proceed with a project, I recommend contacting an AVL consultant or trusted AVL integrator. They will both try to earn your business. But if you approach them with the intent of getting direction and advice on how to proceed, I would hope either of them would be honest in telling you which method and approach would be appropriate to your situation.

If you are just upgrading your main audio console, this whole process may not apply. However, if you are going from an old analog system to a new digital one, there may be elements of this process that are very necessary to make sure the design, product selection, installation, commissioning and training all go smoothly.

By Erik Beyer
Guest Blogger for Tony the Av Guy & AV Bend