Whether you’re an owner, senior manager, or person in your company who has been tasked with procuring design-build services for your laboratory project, you probably have questions about how to go about it, especially if this is your first project. What are the things in the pre-project stage that will help your whole project to be a success? How do you effectively request quotes and proposals and then select between them effectively?
Here are some things to keep in mind for the initial stage of your project. In our experience, these considerations will help to increase the probability that your project will go smoothly, be successful, and meet expectations.
Begin with a plan
The more you can strategically set a plan in place, the more smoothly your project will go.
- Define your project in as much detail as you can.
- Know what your own expectations and goals are and what constitutes success for you and your company.
- List the people, departments, business activities, and stakeholders that will be affected by this project, and collaborate closely with them.
- Identify the specific tasks that must be done (like acquiring permits) and create a realistic timeline of when these things have to be accomplished.
- Implement open lines of communication both towards internal departments and towards the contractor or construction firm.
- Make sure that the relevant people in your office have access to voice concerns, provide key input, and evaluate the decisions that are being made.
- Make sure that your design-build service providers are given clear parameters of your needs, limitations, and priorities.
- Give opportunities for them to meet with you, discuss decisions, and debrief when needed.
Carefully evaluate risks
Look at potential risks in all the possible categories that could affect you, and create a comprehensive risk management plan that you review and update as the project moves forward. For example, take a deep and careful look at questions like these:
- How will this affect my profitability?
- How long will it take to recover from a setback if everything doesn’t go as planned?
- In what way will my building project positively or negatively affect my competitors?
- How long will it take for the long-term benefits to overtake the short-term investment of this move?
- How realistic are my budget and time estimates, and what happens if the project runs over budget?
Establishing your areas of risk will give you the appropriate criteria to apply to a difficult decision if a puzzling question should arise.
Set a budget
In setting a budget, there are two basic approaches you could take for setting your decision criteria (and a whole gradient of variations in between): You could prioritize either the cheapest option or the highest-quality option. Our recommendation is that you opt not to go with the cheapest laboratory design quote you can possibly find, because that would be running too big of a risk that you will get a firm that cuts corners, uses second-class or incorrect materials, and compromises long-term safety. Review the qualifications and experience of anyone you use to design and construct a lab or technical facility. Keep in mind that a firm with greater attention to detail and commitment to quality may be able to exceed your expectations through innovation or creative solutions.
While this may seem counter-intuitive, creating a short list of potential providers will actually help you to receive higher-quality competitive proposals. When you request and receive proposals, general courtesy guidelines include making sure that all proposers have access to reliable information, not being biased, not disclosing the intellectual property of proposers, avoiding conflicts of interest, and providing clarity about your budgets. If your proposal requires significant manpower or hours to compile and submit, it is customary to offer a reasonable stipend to unsuccessful proposers.
Evaluate the proposals and make a selection
In evaluating the proposals you receive, it can be helpful to have a team of experts assess the technical specifications of each proposal before they see the information about price. This data can be indispensable in giving you the ability to make the best decision.
When you need lab design and building services, you can count on LCS Constructors to listen to your needs, consult with you over potential risks, advise you of best practices, and provide you with a great design.