As part of your procurement, you should include a project procurement plan. You will then have to review and approve the plan, define your selection criteria, identify potential vendors, create a statement of work, and create contract change processes.
During archival project resource procurement, you may have to employ a Request for Information (RFI). This document enables you to obtain information from the suppliers of the products and services you’re seeking. A form of fact-finding exercise, the RFI provides valuable information, such as which vendors can provide the services you need, pricing data, price comparisons, and the identification of similar products and services. Contracts rarely come from an RFI. Releasing an RFI informs vendors that you might be procuring these products and services. It also means that you may issue a Request for Quotation (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP) in the future.
Archival Project RFQs
An RFQ seeks only a price from the vendor. Straightforward purchases for archival projects, such as the purchase of scanners for an in-house digitization project, typically use RFQs. Because of the RFQ, you should be able to select a supplier and sign a contract based on their response. It’s slightly different from an Invitation for Bid (IFB), which implies that several vendors will be bidding on the opportunity to provide the goods or services.
RFQs allow you to decide whom to engage without the substantial investment of time that an RFP requires. RFQs also enable you to collaborate with smaller vendors who may not have the time or resources to complete a complex RFP—but can provide better customer service and more flexibility than larger vendors.
Solicitation often starts with an RFP that asks vendors for bids. A proposal is used to procure products and services that are complicated, such as the construction or renovation of an archival facility. RFPs bring structure to the procurement decision-making process and enable you to identify archival project risks and benefits. RFPs require the vendor to provide information, such as company history, financial stability, technical capability, and examples of similar project deliveries.
An RFP contains the services you need, your schedule, and your budget. Include your vendor selection criteria, so companies can decide whether to bid. Provide instructions and the deadline for submitting a proposal, and the date you will announce your decision.
Evaluating Your Offers
Once you have all the vendors’ proposals, evaluate the responses using the criteria you identified and determine who you would like to use. The selection process depends on the size and complexity of the project. The evaluation may be as easy as filling in a spreadsheet with ratings and choosing the vendor with the highest score.
For large archival projects, you might reduce the submissions down to a short list of vendors and ask vendors in the second round to prepare a more detailed presentation. Some organizations require selection strictly on the lowest bid; others evaluate each vendor’s quality, reliability, and price. Some selection processes require complicated point systems for selection; others go with their gut feelings.
Selecting Your Vendor
For complex or competitive procurements, review the proposals, choose your preferred vendors, and arrange for demonstrations of their products if appropriate. Select your vendor, negotiate a contract, and update your schedule and project management plan if required. In addition, you will also want to allocate activities to monitor the procurement process throughout the project life cycle, such as maintaining relationships with vendors, performing invoice reconciliations, monitoring delivery, and performing contract change control.
The Statement of Work
The section of a contract that details what is expected from the vendor is the Statement of Work (SOW). Regardless of the contract type used, SOWs should contain a detailed list of products and services to be provided—including your responsibilities and those of the vendor. Also include a deliverables schedule and a price structure with the payment schedule. You may also include reporting metrics, incentives, penalties, acceptance criteria, and the warranty period. In some instances, you can consider an SOW that contains characteristics of both the fixed price and time and material contract types for different services.
Margot Note, archivist and consultant, writes for Lucidea, provider of ArchivEra, archival collections management software for today’s challenges and tomorrow’s. Read more of Margot’s posts with advice on running successful archival projects.
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