?If you are deciding the best possible fit for your office, chances are that you have spoken to many vendors whom may ask you for a request for proposal. Responding to an RFP is an expensive and time-consuming piece of work, too. If you craft your RFP in too general a fashion, you'll create a formidable challenge for unfortunate vendors who will have to go back and forth asking you to make the questions more specific and then answering these questions. Even thought this may be a bulky task to undergo it is in your best interest that you become as familiarized with the products' specifications as you are with the business whom will be handling it for you. Only a really in-depth, comprehensive RFP will make it easy for potential vendors to draw up their proposals and save your own time in the long run. A lot of consideration should go into crafting an RFP (Request for Proposals) to office furniture dealers and distributors supplying technology-compatible modular office systems. Some managers may place more weight on certain considerations over others, but should insist that their vendors strive to meet all of the following desirable features. 1. Panel Considerations You should focus on the strength and rigidity when in use and the factors that enables the systems to remain distortion-free during MACs. A new approach called off-modular design allows much greater freedom in locating bins, shelves and divider panels. Newer technologies such as knockdown and ready-to-assemble structural elements overcome traditional restrictions and, as a bonus, add flexibility while reducing production and erection costs. These new features give designers and installers virtually unlimited options in task tailoring today's office and workspace layouts. Another benefit of this new construction technology is the stackable panel frame - an innovation taking office furniture systems literally to the next level. Load-bearing walls 30 inches to ceiling high can be constructed, moved and reconfigured quickly and efficiently to create spaces in harmony with the work being performed or support a wholesale job change. 2. Cable Management Cable management for power and voice/data/video is a major challenge to be addressed in technology-intensive workplaces. Vendors should confirm that their cabling installers are trained and certified for power and data installations, and that all wiring and cabling conform to local codes. Power systems should not share channel space with voice and data systems, and should be available for positioning either above or below the work surfaces. Manufacturers of modular office furniture systems may claim to have addressed cable management in their designs. Here's a sample of what managers should look for: ? Certified conformance to TIA/EIA TSB 75 and TIA/EIA -568-A ? Dedicated power and dedicated voice/data cable pathways ? Consolidation points supporting a zoned cable infrastructure ? An internal structural design that supports the concept of "fanned out cable management" behind easily removed and replaced panel tile segments ? Disconnect blocks that connect horizontal cabling from the telecommunications closet to the workstation cabling to permit isolating and testing circuits without removing cable terminations ? A simple "plug-and-play" design allowing personnel equipped with a minimum of training to add, remove or reposition workspaces or cabling without disrupting the entire office ? Lay-in cabling runs outside structural framing but behind modular removable office wall tiles. This provides more cabling capacity, pathway options and easier access ? Concealed cable management anchor points for slack cable storage ? Easily installed data ports in several work area options 3. Data Throughput Data throughput, otherwise phrased as the data handling capacity of the office network, is a subject of its own. Companies will continue to wrestle with the tradeoff between costs and the efficiencies gained with high-capacity networks. These throughputs are required to accommodate massive file transfers or download, lighting speed Internet access and full-motion video to the workplace. A companion decision, also a subject of its own, is what medium to use for office data cabling. However, analyzing your needs in detail and making sure all your requirements are included in the document isn't enough either. Here are a few main things that should be included in your proposal: 1. Information About Your Company 2. IT Standards 3. Reasons for Requesting a Proposal 4. Project Description 5. Time Limit 6. Proposal Description 7. Requested Information About a Vendor 8. Perfect Vendor's Image 9. Criteria for Proposal Evaluation 10. Confidentiality Sam Inci is a technical writer on Office Furniture and Systems Furniture for MaiSpace.