The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Facility Operations RFPs

Facilities operations Request for Proposals (RFPs) are documents that help vet vendor contracts that can be critical to your bottom line. This column and its related PDF offer thoughts on what's important in developing these documents. The author and Data Center Knowledge welcome your comments on what to include in a RFP.

Lee Technologies

Steve Manos, Account Executive for Lee Technologies, is a 13-year technology-services veteran deeply rooted in every layer of design, deployment, and operations management of large scale mission-critical facilities.

Those of you who have followed my blog ramblings in the past year or so know that my approach to things can be a bit “off-center” at times. I seem to enjoy inter-relating our industry with that of my life experiences. Whether drawing from the Superman "underoos" of my youth, old Monty Python movies, or one of my favorite reads, “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” I tend to find the oddest correlations between everyday life and, believe it or not, data centers.

So, it is not surprising that I find myself in Florida for my children’s spring break, wishing I had compiled a comprehensive Request for Proposal (RFP) in order to select the “best” resort. Like any organization who selects its services by committee, each member of the Manos family team has its checklist of wants and necessities in reaching resort/vacation utopia—requirements like my nine-year-old’s need for plenty of kids to play with, my six-year-old son’s requirement of an on-premise ice cream shop, my essential need for margarita-laden poolside wait staff and my wife’s simple request for warmth and sun. It can be tough to find the perfect resort.

With my recent participation in several facility operations RFPs, I can’t help but relate my current situation with those who have reached out to locate, vet and award contracts to a vendor who they must trust with so much more than the water temperature of the pool.

Sitting here on the resort patio as my bald head turns a darker shade of maroon, I thought it might be helpful to have a comprehensive list of requirements for those out there that are investigating the possibility of outsourcing their critical facility operations. While it’s impossible to cover every individual criterion, I have compiled some of the most prevalent and essential below.

I have also compiled a separate document, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Data Center Facility Operations,” that bullets just about all other criteria we have seen in more than 25 years in this space. I thought it might be a great exercise for the DCK readership to also add any criteria I have missed in hopes that we could create a comprehensive guide that everyone can use when considering these services. So without further ado, these are some of the biggest (in no particular order):

  • Cost: Thought I’d get this one out of the way due to the obviousness. This, however, in and of itself can be pretty involved when considering all of the cost options inherent in a program like this.
  • Insurance: Do your vendors meet the necessary insurance coverage of your organization?
  • Training: What career and skill development programs does the vendor have as part of their program? How does the facility operations team hone its skill in a live data center environment?
  • Methodology: For me, this is one of the biggest. How does a vendor effectively wrap all of the components of a successful critical facility operation into a succinct process that becomes the company’s doctrine?
  • Quality Assurance/Quality Control/ Quality Improvement: What is the vendors QA/QC/QI plan in regards to the review, creation, and constant adjustment to operations procedures (SOPs, MOPs, EOPs, etc)?
  • Management Systems Integration: Assuming the client has a current maintenance management system, how would a vendor work with or integrate its preferred systems with the client’s existing system?
  • Key Performance Indicators: How does the vendor measure performance? What method and how frequently does the vendor assess client satisfaction?
  • Staff Determination: How does the vendor assess and determine staff levels in both number and technical capability?

These are obviously just a few questions necessary to determine if the facility operations vendor can meet the needs of any critical facility footprint. As stated earlier, my hope is that the reader will find the more comprehensive compilation that can be downloaded here. In the interest of “crowd sourcing,” I also welcome additional RFP questions and criteria from the readership in order to provide a more comprehensive “Guide” to the Data Center “Galaxy.”

Oh, and for those looking to issue an RFP for the perfect resort, make sure to include, “What type and density of biting insects do you have this time of year?” This week, I’ve been stung more than a beekeeper doing the Macarena.

Editor's Note: Lee Technologies is open to improving and refining this RFP guidance document. Please add your thoughts to the comments below and the best comments may be incorporated into a finalized version, which will be made available to the community via Lee Technologies website. DCK will announce when a finalized version is available.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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