Fiber Optic and Premises Cabling
The key to any successful project is an
understanding of the project, the requirements of the
customer and the expectations of the contractor. These are
spelled out in a number of documents that are created by
and often negotiated amont the parties involved. The
paperwork begins before the project starts so the scope of
work is known to everyone and end only when the final
copies of the documentation are presented to the customer.
Here are descriptions of the most common documents, the
Scope of Work (SOW), Request for Proposal (RFP), Request
for Quote (RFQ) and contract, that are used to define a
Note: There is a whole category of paperwork we have not
addressed here, the actual technical design documentation
which includes drawings of the project, lists of
components, installation instructions, etc. which will be
covered in separate web pages.
Scope of Work (SOW)
A "Scope of Work" document is created
by the initiator of a project to describe the work to be
performed or the services to be provided by a contractor.
It describes tasks to be performed, directs methods to be
used, and defines the period of performance. It should
contain design and performance requirements. A scope of
work for communications cabling or fiber optics may be
part of a larger building project document that is based
on a standardized format called "MasterFormat"
in the US and Canada.
A well written scope of work can do
more for the success of a contract than any other part of
the contracting process. A good scope of work is clear,
complete, and logical enough to be understood by the
respondent and the university personnel who will
administer it. Because it describes the details of
performance, it is the yardstick against which the
respondent's performance is measured. That is why the
user's requester, contract administrator and/orsubject
matter expert should be the focal point for developing the
scope of work.
A SOW should be clear, precise and
complete. It should describe the project in an unambiguous
fashion, covering what needs to be done, who will do it,
what is the time scale of the project, where the work is
to be performed and how successful completion of the
project will be determined. A scope of work can be
detailed and specific if the work can be completely
defined or more open when the project has options and
latitiude in reaching the goal of the customer.
The scope of work is only part of the
procurement process. It will generally not include
provisions dealing with legal, financial, or contract
administration related issues (cost estimates, designation
of key personnel, methods of payment, degree of
confidentiality, types of contracts). These will be
covered in other contractual documents.
Outlining the Scope of Work Process
The following may be considered for
inclusion in a comprehensive working outline:
1. Objectives - Precisely identify desired end objectives
of the project and associated technical requirements.
2. Context of Project - List background information that
will aid a contractor in understanding the nature and
origin of the requirements. Include a brief summary of
appropriate objectives, statutory program authority, major
programs, and goals set by policy and/or procedure if
relevant. Describe the relationship of the effort to major
programs and goals.
3. Scope - Clearly describe the scope of required
contractor efforts in support of project objectives.
a. Technical considerations - Set forth technical
considerations that may influence a contractor's approach
or efforts. Any known specific phenomena, techniques,
methodologies, or results of previous related work that
may influence a contractor's efforts or direction of
approach should be specified.
b. Tasks - List specific tasks and subtasks to be
accomplished by a contractor to satisfy the objectives,
together with the required sequence of tasks in mi express
order of accomplishment.
4. Acceptance - Establish milestones or management control
points in the sequence of tasks where the customer
requires review, approval, acceptance, or rejection.
Establish relevant and well-defined baselines for
contractor performance measurement. These baselines will
serve at least four purposes. They will: (a) prevent a
contractor from drifting into areas not pertinent to the
effort; (b) measure the results of completed work; (c)
assist in defining whether or not subsequent changes or
redirection of effort falls within the original scope of
work; and (d) assist the project manager and the
contracting officer in monitoring the progress of work.
This monitoring is particularly important for phase-type
contracts where it is necessary to detect unsatisfactory
performance at an early stage. It will allow a project
manager to inform procurement personnel of unpromising
contractor actions that should be dealt with promptly
before their effect compromises the entire contract
5. Responsibilities - Identify all combined customer and
contractor participation needed for the project, as well
as the nature and extent of all task responsibilities. All
tasks requiring customer support (customer-furnished
equipment, facilities, materials, ect.) should be stated
specifically. The nature and requirements of customer
support to be provided should also be stated specifically.
6. Schedule - Generate a schedule for the sequence of
tasks to be performed by a contractor and a similar
schedule for related responsibilities of the customer.
7. Deliverables identify contractor delivery requirements
precisely and schedule a delivery date for each. Include
details about the type and quantity of all deliverables.
For instance, such details must be provided for
theoretical models, computer software, drawings,
documentation, reports, or other data. State precisely
what a contractor is to deliver at specified times as the
work progresses and on completion of contract performance.
Delivery schedules may be stated in calendar or work days
of elapsed time (e.g., X calendar days after award of
contract) or in terms of a specific calendar date.
8. Data/Documentation Requirements - Identify all
technical data/documentation requirements, including the
intended use for these data by the project manager.
9. Information Requirements - Identify management
information requirements that a contractor must satisfy.
10. Time - Estimate professional and technical
person-hours, -weeks, -months, or -years required of a
contractor to perform the contract effort as appropriate.
Developing the outline will: (a) allow full attention to
be directed to technical content; (b) help guard against
significant omissions; (c) aid in achieving smoothness and
continuity; and (d) help eliminate unnecessary and
Scope of Work Format
Although the elements of a scope of
work can vary with the objective, complexity, size and
nature of the work to be performed, a flexible, seven-part
format provides a practical approach to document drafting.
The suggested seven parts are:
I. Background-general description of the project and any
relevant comments of the development of the project
II. Scope - a summary of the SOWdescribing the purpose of
the project and the end result desired
III. References - all applicable documents or other types
of records/standards, etc.
IV. Requirements including schedules - the exact project
V. Progress/Compliance - how the customer will judge the
progress/completion of the project and the compliance to
requirements of the SOW
VI. Transmittal/Delivery/Accessibility - defines the
requirements for documenting project completion including
work completion, data from work/testing and final
VII. Notes - elaboration of other sections or topics not
appropriate for the sections above
The seven-part format is recommended as
a guide. This does not mean that the SOW must be broken
down into paragraphs with headings and subheadings. The
SOW can simply reflect an orderly progression of ideas
based on the seven- part structure.
An excellent example of directions on
writing a SOW from the standpoint of a university is at
Typical Subjects Covered In Fiber Optic Project SOW
of communications system
of installation along the route
(underground/aerial/submarine/premises with options for
Cable (determined by environment)
Fiber (determined by comms equipment)
Splices and termination (determined by equipment
( (determined by environment and applications, includes
conduits/ducts, aerial hardware, manholes/handholes,
pedestals, splice closures, etc.)
(OLTS, OTDR, fiber characterization for high speed/long
Request for Proposal (RFP)
A request for proposal (RFP) is an
early stage in a procurement process, issuing an
invitation for suppliers, often through a bidding process,
to submit a proposal on a specific commodity or service.
The RFP process brings structure to the procurement
decision and allows the risks and benefits to be
identified clearly upfront.
A RFP typically involves more than a
request for the price and in fact may not request pricing
at all, waiting for a final Request for Quote (RFQ) to
follow. Other requested information may include basic
corporate information and history, financial information,
technical capability (used on major procurements of
services, where the item has not previously been made or
where the requirement could be met by varying technical
means), product information such as stock availability and
estimated completion period, and customer references that
can be checked to determine a company's suitability.
In the military, an RFP is often raised
to fulfill an Operational Requirement (OR), after which
the military procurement authority will normally issue a
detailed Technical Specification against which tenders
(i.e., RFQs or bids) will be made by potential
contractors. In the civilian use, an RFP can be part of a
complex sales process which includes subsequent
RFPs often include specifications of
the item, project or service for which a proposal is
requested. The more detailed the specifications, the
better the chances that the proposal provided will be
accurate. Generally RFPs are sent to an approved supplier
or vendor list.
The bidders return a proposal by a set
date and time. Late proposals may or may not be
considered, depending on the terms of the initial RFP. The
proposals are used to evaluate the suitability as a
supplier, vendor, or institutional partner. Discussions
may be held on the proposals (often to clarify technical
capabilities or to note errors in a proposal). In some
instances, all or only selected bidders may be invited to
participate in subsequent bids, or may be asked to submit
their best technical and financial proposal, commonly
referred to as a Best and Final Offer (BAFO).
Request for Quote (RFQ)
A request for quotation (RFQ) is a
standard business process whose purpose is to invite
suppliers into a bidding process to bid on specific
products or services. RFQ generally means the same thing
as IFB (Invitation For Bid). An RFQ typically involves
more than the price per item. Information like payment
terms, quality level per item or contract length are
possible to be requested during the bidding process.
To receive correct quotes, RFQs often
include the specifications of the items/services to make
sure all the suppliers are bidding on the same
item/service. Logically, the more detailed the
specifications, the more accurate the quote will be and
comparable to the other suppliers. Another reason for
being detailed in sending out an RFQ is that the
specifications could be used as legal binding
documentation for the suppliers.
The suppliers have to return the
bidding by a set date and time to be considered for an
award. Discussions may be held on the bids (often to
clarify technical capabilities or to note errors in a
proposal). The bid does not have to mean the end of the
bidding. Multiple rounds can follow or even a Reverse
auction can follow to generate the best market price.
RFQ's are best suited to products and
services that are as standardised and as commoditised as
possible, as this makes each suppliers’ quotes comparable.
In practice, many businesses use a RFQ where an RFT or RFI
would be more appropriate.
An RFQ allows different contractors to
provide a quotation, among which the best will be
selected. It also makes the potential for competitive
bidding a lot higher, since the suppliers could be quite
certain that they are not the only ones bidding for the
The contract for a project must include
detailed requirements for the project, spelling out
exactly what is to be installed, acceptable test results,
and documentation to be provided. All this should be
discussed and negotiated between the customer and the
contractor and agreed to in writing. They are not
irrelevant details, as they are important to ensure the
customer gets what they expect and the contractor knows
what is expected of them when designing the network,
estimating costs, doing the actual installation and
providing proof of performance in order to show the work
is completed and payment should be made.
More Topics On Fiber
Table of Contents: The FOA
Reference Guide To Fiber Optics