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How to Understand a Request For Proposal (RFP) Or Request For Tender (RFT)

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How to Understand a Request For Proposal (RFP) Or Request For Tender (RFT)

The task of understanding and interpreting a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Tender (RFT) for the procurement of goods or services can be daunting for companies that have not had much exposure to this sort of procurement method. You may have read through hundreds of pieces of paper a few times and still be trying to work out what is being requested, and what you actually need to send back in your proposal or bid. The layout and language used in an RFP/ RFT document can often be confusing or ambiguous. It may be difficult for you to understand why certain documents are included and also difficult to even decipher the actual technical products or services being requested.  So how do you go about understanding and interpreting a RFP/ RFT document for you to appropriately plan your bid or response?

Unfortunately, there is no standard formula for how a company issuing a RFP/ RFT constructs their document. However, we have outlined some general themes and features that should be present in any RFP/ RFT that you need to look for to help you assemble your response. We have also provided some of the reasons why these features are included and what they should mean to you as a responder. Given that the use of RFP’s and RFT’s are used in many domains, this article is equally applicable to a variety of industries such as information technology (IT), business products or services, or construction and engineering products and services.

A typical RFP/ RFT package could include the following components:

  • Summary information that outlines the products or services being called for, and the general information such as closing dates and time, and place that the bid is to be lodged
  • General Conditions of tender that detail the overarching conditions, such as:
  • Tendering or bidding conditions – these are normally a stock-standard set of conditions imposed by the requesting organization that details the conditions to which you must comply in placing a bid. They can include the specified tender validity period, their right to negotiate, their right to accept or reject bids, the required tender format and the tender’s timings, ownership of the tender documents, just to name a few.
  • Evaluation criteria – these are the areas that your response will be assessed against. There will be a list of technical areas and financial and pricing requirements. Generally, you will see criteria that loosely match against the response schedules. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see what weightings these criteria are assigned in the overall evaluation.
  • The “Brief” or Specifications that detail the scope of work required to be met in your submission. This could include:
    • A description of the products or services required
    • Business and Technical Requirements, or Systems Requirements Specifications, particularly if it is an IT project
    • Analysis and design requirements
    • Warranty requirements
    • Operations and support requirements
    • User training requirements
    • Testing and implementation requirements
    • Project timeline that indicates the required timing of the project, if you were successful
    • Design or location drawings, if there is any physical construction or equipment required
    • General or standard specifications that must be complied with, such as national or industry standards (e.g. building standards), or specifications that are always used by a company (e.g. Occupational Health and Safety, and Quality Systems specifications)
  • Attachments or Appendices that may provide additional information but do not fit easily into the company’s standard terms or format of the tender documents
  • Draft Contract or Agreement intended to be used should your proposal be selected
  • Response Schedules that allow you to respond to the requirements of the tender. Typical response schedules could match either the terms stated in General Conditions of tender or the Specifications. You could expect to see Schedules such as:
    • Solution description or a description of your proposal, which requires you to provide an overview of your services or products, and how you are going to implement or apply them to the project
    • Staff and project team structure you intend to use during the engagement, and their background, skills and experience
    • Past performance of your company in similar projects, along with references
    • Specification Compliance Schedules for you to indicate how your products and services comply with the Specifications of the tender
    • Response to the draft Contract terms, which should contain your comments or changes to the agreement for consideration
    • Financial information regarding your company, which could include recent profit and loss statements
    • Cost of your proposal, which will either be in lump sum or time and materials basis
    • Alternatives offered, which allows you to detail any options you consider to be of better value, but may not meet all of the requirements

Described above are of some of the main features of a RFP/ RFT document, which can help you interpret what is required for a tender response. So before you start writing your next response, try to identify the location of this information in the RFP/ RFT document. This should allow you to understand the requirements, and effectively plan your approach to writing your bid or response.

Online Travel Agencies – Benefits and Disadvantages

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Online Travel Agencies – Benefits and Disadvantages

When it comes to the choice between using an online travel agency or not for your next trip, there are several factors to consider with several pros and cons.

One of the main concerns that seem to arise with online travel agencies is the trustworthiness and security of paying such large amounts of money online. While online security is a major factor for any online travel agency, this is true of all online businesses. So it is more a matter of choosing a travel agency online with a quality reputation by looking at their customer reviews and see what their actual site itself is like. What’s more, when you are logging on and preparing to pay for any online costs, there should always be that small symbol of a lock at the bottom right hand side of the screen as a sign of the level of security attached.

The benefits of using online travel agencies are that unlike their physical counterparts, they are available at any time, ideal for emergency travel situations, and also for any late after-hours bookings that you need to complete. Additionally you can compare travel deals and special available all over the world in order to find the very best deal for you and your travels. What this means is that while a physical travel agency will have a great range of deals for you, they are limited by who they can work with in terms of other travel professionals. With these online agencies, it up to you to decide who you work with, allowing you to create your ideal travel plans.

What you may also find when working with online travel agencies that you will have a great range of methods to pay for the holiday, offering greater flexibility and financial choice. These choices can range from the standard credit cards and accounts to payment plans and travel accounts.

Overall when talking online travel agencies it is more a matter of preference of the customer and how they prefer to do their business, either online or in person, that should dictate how they book their travel plans.

Student Travel Agents

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Student Travel Agents

A student travel agent doesn’t necessarily mean a person specialized in locating travel tours for students, or a student working for a travel company tagged as an agent. A student travel agent directly refers to travel companies that handle tour and travel packages for students.

These travel agents, or agencies, as they are popularly known, do not sell just airline tickets, they also sell cruise tours and automobile rentals to students. They arrange for almost all the activities and itineraries of the whole trip. They handle hotel bookings, complimentary meals, and even stopovers to souvenir shops.

These agents or agencies are dedicated to bringing in a-top-of-the-line service for students, or so they promise. They offer adventure packages, cultural packages, educational packages, and even the simplest sightseeing package tours for those on a very tight budget.

Adventure packages will bring you close to nature travel tours, involving white water rafting, mountain trekking, and even wild animal sightings. Adventure tours also include extreme sports such as bungee jumping and skydiving. This kind of trip usually requires the student to sign a waiver or release form.

Cultural packages will let you explore other people’s cultures. They usually cover historical and scenic spectacles of the place as well as allowing the traveler to experience firsthand how the people go about their daily routines by socializing with them and even spending the night away from the comforts of their hotels.

Educational tours are usually trips to museums and other historical landmarks of a certain town or country. Some museums in Rome only allow tourists from tour groups to enter.

Sightseeing tours are those trips wherein a tourist guide usually educates you, and you visit scenic attractions while riding a bus. One example is the tour in New York to see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue, and even restaurants and shops from famous Hollywood movies.

In searching for a travel agent, make sure that the agent is affiliated with ASTA or American Society of Travel Agents. You can be sure that an ASTA-member agency will give you a stress free and worthwhile trip.

How To Do Plumbing in a Log Home

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How To Do Plumbing in a Log Home

The exquisiteness of a home log makes this type of housing a popular choice for people looking for quaint and comfortable living. Now, because of innovative and easy to build home log kits, it is quite affordable to build a log home. When building a home log, it is important to consider the installation of the plumbing system.

Installing plumbing in a home log is not that much different than installing plumbing in a conventional home. In most cases, the plumbing can be hidden behind the wall cladding and within the floor. A plumber will install and run the pipe system in the walls of log homes that have interior framed walls. For log homes that have all interior walls, the plumber will build a chase-way in a room on the first level. The chase-way is a boxed out area in which the HVAC and plumbing runs through to the second level of the log home.

If a log home is built with completely round log floor joists on the second level, the floor will have to be built up to allow for the electrical and plumbing. This is done by creating a space between the tongue and grove by using taking 2″x6″ boards and standing them on end. Supplementary plumbing is passed through conventional stud walls throughout the log home.

When installing the plumbing, it is much easier and less expensive to keep the bathrooms near each other such as back to back or above one another if it is a two level log home. Galvanized steel pipe is generally used for the line from the well to the pump. As well, polyethylene piping can be used as it is lighter and more flexible. However, you should not use it for the hot water. It is also essential to consider whether the pipes will be exposed to the cold. It is important to make sure the pipes are properly insulated from the cold to avoid freezing of the pipes. The plumbing should also drain easily so that water does not sit in the pipes.

It is important to check with the appropriate authorities regarding the location of the septic tank because consideration for the location will include the type of soil, drainage field, and location of the well. As well, a plumber will have to install of the fixtures and make sure the pipe system is properly installed and functioning properly.

When building a new home logs, it is essential that the plumbing system can properly take water into the home and take wastewater out of the home to be treated. An inadequate plumbing system can disrupt the normal function of the system which includes leaks, backed up sewers, burst pipes, water overflow in the home, and more. When installing a plumbing system in a log home, it is essential that you hire a professional plumber to do the job. A plumber will ensure the plumbing system is installed correctly, identify potential problems, and check the entire system to make sure it is working correctly.

Book Review of The Friends of Allan Renner

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Book Review of The Friends of Allan Renner

Dave J. Andrae’s The Friends of Allan Renner proposes an intelligent exploration of life through a multi-level, multiperspectival narrative which comes by virtue of Allan Renner’s encounters and discourse with his eclectic assortment of friends.

This book is definitively an offering of food for thought, brimming with revelations about life and people in general. This is a narrative that is provocative in its ideals and shines through its characters, their thoughts, actions and personalities during their congregations with central character Allan Renner often giving a story within a story as their backstories are also very revealing about human nature. Moreover, although this work is a fictional story, the subject matter of their encounters and conversations are realistic, important, and quite often thought provoking with topics such as astrophysics, cosmology, modern culture, racism, film making, futurism, sex, dating, technology, as well as artistic endeavors.

Ultimately, as the story’s protagonist, Allan Renner is an interesting characterization. He is intelligent, amiable, stalwart, a film buff and occasionally, works freelance as a production assistant. Meanwhile, within the seven chapters of the book, each chapter is centered around an encounter with a different friend. Perspectively, life is seen through the diversity of fascinating viewpoints with each acquaintance. Also at play is the diversity of their backstories which allows for a deeper look into their thought processes with the conversations delving into various aspects of the human condition.

First, we meet Akhil Das, a well-degreed high school guidance counselor, astrophysics enthusiast, and unfortunate alcoholic. Akhil and Allan delve into conversation on the topics concerning cosmology and the beginning and end of humanity. Next, we meet Allan’s friend Sadie Guildwood, an attractive middle-aged woman who was once head-vocalist in a semi popular band, as well as social media blogger. Essentially the interaction between Sadie and Allan presents a bit of sexual tension as there is a potential for a romantic encounter between the two that does not materialize but hope for it looms in the air. Their conversations include juxtaposing working in cinema versus working as a musician, the future of humanity, future technology, and Transhumanism. Additionally, there are spates of inner mentations concerning their likes and dislikes about one another. The pace picks up, when the two meet with an acquaintance of Sadie’s that take things on an interesting twist. Moving on to the next friend, we meet Fred, a multiracial African American jazz enthusiast who grew up somewhat privileged. Also a budding film director and teacher, Fred believes in the power of cinema to help people. What makes this chapter stand out is the reactions of characters while waiting for a seasoned criminal to come and audition for a film. The remainder of the book encompasses chapters based on his parents, his pet Havapoo Ruby, as well as pivotal friends Carmen and Xynnulu.

Altogether the people and experiences in the chapters of Allan Renner’s life made for an interesting, nicely paced story, woven with absorbing, complicated characters enmeshed in a creative narrative with scenes of a life that are revelatory, endearing, and pulse racing. I enjoyed The Friends of Allan Renner by Dave J. Andrae; it made for great read, with a storyline that included a nice science fiction twist and I do recommend it for adult readers.

Starting a Business? Reasons Why You May Need to Recruit an Advisory Board

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Starting a Business? Reasons Why You May Need to Recruit an Advisory Board

Do you know everything? Do you know everyone? Do you have strengths and weaknesses? I assume that your answers to these three questions are “No, no, and well, yes,” given in the order of the questions, as posed. If you are contemplating starting a business, merrily bootstrapping your way to what you hope will be entrepreneurial success, perhaps you need to reconsider your own human limitations. You might want to strongly consider recruiting an advisory board.

Who should become a member of your advisory board?

That’s a tough one, and an easy one. The tough part is that you probably already have members of your advisory board, yet neither you, nor they, may be aware of their membership. Significant others, parents, friends, and other folks who are a part of your life all tend to give you advice–sometimes, whether you want it, or not. Are these people good advisory board members for your business? Maybe! Maybe not.

Let’s suppose we take the instance of a spouse or a significant other. It may cause a drain on your relationship to talk shop, too often. If your relationship begins to suffer because you cannot leave your work at work, and spend time on the personal part of your relationship, perhaps you should set some boundaries, and leave your struggle, pains, headaches, and gripes at work. If you are enjoying success: share it. If you work at home, leave all of those other negative things in your in-home office. Adopt a similar attitude as the insurance companies that suggest: “I don’t want to be a burden to my family.”

To the extent that you are able, you should leave the office burden behind and take adequate care of yourself, too, by-the-way. Turn the cell phone off, leave the laptop screen down, close the office door behind you on the way out, and clear your head from time-to-time.

Some personal relationships are strengthened by a great deal of togetherness. If that’s the way yours works, and you trust the “instincts,” acumen, and abilities of someone who is close to you (relative to guiding your business), then by all means, consider adding this person to your advisory board. You may want to have a clearly established set of protocols for ensuring that this arrangement works, however. While it’s not exactly the same thing, it should serve as a warning to anyone that it is not unusual for friendships and other close relationships to evolve into business partnerships, only to subsequently unravel.

In outlining the above, certain things should have become obvious: one needs to establish criteria for the selection and retention of advisory board members. In particular, on an individual basis, one should have skills, knowledge, and insights that will serve to strengthen you, the advisee. The relationship should yield objective advice, which you may or may not adopt, with no hard feelings on anybody’s part.

You should also adopt a holistic view about the composition of the entire board: there should be balance. I am particularly fond of mentioning that there is also a place for non-experts on a board. Some of the greatest insights of all come from individuals who innocently ask what the “experts” might consider naive questions. “Why, do you do it this way?” Every once in a while, that individual who doesn’t know any better may ask a question that stumps the experts, or causes them to produce a very poor answer in an era of rapid change, which we now face. That poor answer is usually along the lines of, “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” (Baaawoooonk–game show loser. Wrong answer.)

Recruitment strategies that work.

Have you ever heard of the WIFM proposition? “What’s in-it for me?” That’s the question you should prepare to answer as you craft your message for prospective advisory members, and determine who those members might be. The question I would ask is this, “Who might benefit from being on my board, while assisting me?” Let’s take the example of a Web site or other marketing communications materials: It might be nice if you would provide some public acknowledgement to your advisory board member in your outbound messages, such that they generate visibility and benefit that individual’s own endeavors. Yes, it’s tit for tat. Be thoughtful of the other person’s needs and interests!

Don’t forget sharing. Remember that from kindergarten? You need to be prepared to give, as well as receive. Don’t ask people to be a member of your advisory board if you are too apathetic, or too busy to give a little of your time helping others yourself. Don’t be one-sided in your dealings with other people. Further, it doesn’t have to be the same little group of people. In other words, if you were kind enough to sit on a few boards and lend your skills and insights, the adage, “What goes around, comes around,” will likely apply to you. It may be a different group of individuals, besides the ones you got to know through the boards you sit on, who sit on your own advisory board. That’s o.k., just think of the expanded network that you will have.

Logistics of advisory boards

Don’t be a burden to your board. Too many meetings become very non-productive. Too much communication becomes an imposition. Keep advisory board obligations streamlined, simple, and convenient; meetings should be limited in frequency and duration, mutually beneficial, and enjoyable, while at the same time addressing the “nuts and bolts” of the advising tasks at hand. If you have the budget, you may wish to consider an annual meeting in a setting that’s enjoyable. If you cannot afford it, is it because you were so busy bootstrapping that you didn’t foresee the need for such a board or meetings? That’s called thinking small. Think bigger.

Staying connected, and competent

If you don’t provide for your, and your company’s, own nurturing and development, it probably isn’t going to occur at all. As a related aside, I find that many business plans often fail to address professional development and the entrepreneur’s need to stay tuned in and informed. If you haven’t factored in your own industry’s number one and number two annual conferences, some continuing education and seminars, some workshops, and plenty of books and periodicals, you’re cheating your business out of what should be one if its primary assets: your competence and connectedness as a leader.

Bottom line, you need to stay connected and informed to be effective. An advisory board is a great way to address many aspects of this requirement. You should supplement and offset your weaknesses and human limitations with the help of others, and be sure to reciprocate.

Business Plans Made Simple

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Business Plans Made Simple

I have a friend and business partner who is probably the world’s foremost expert on buying businesses.

Over the past 50 years he has bought somewhere around 200 (he’s lost count) businesses, and still going strong today.

And one of the jokes he likes to make goes something like this:

“There are three things people are afraid of in life: death, taxes and business plans.”

In fact, from his experience, he says the business plan is the most dreaded part of the whole business-buying process.

And yet, it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s why:

While it’s true you do need a business plan if you want to get money from a bank, an investor or any other financing source…writing a business plan really isn’t all that complicated.

In fact, a business plan basically just a sales document with three main components:

1.) How much money you need.

2.) What you need the money for.

3.) How you’re going to pay the money back.

And that’s it.

See?

That’s not so complicated, is it?

All you need to know besides the above is how to structure a business plan (there are books in your local library that can help you with this free), and you’re ready to go.

Bottom line?

Don’t put off buying a business just because you’re afraid to write a business plan or don’t think you can afford to hire someone to do it for you.

If you simply educate yourself on the topic (again, go to any library and learn it free), you will be up and running with your own business in no time.

Why Your Vacation Insurance Claims Can Be Denied

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Why Your Vacation Insurance Claims Can Be Denied

Travelling is a very good encounter one can have in his life time. Most travelers decide to purchase a journey coverage protection to be “protected and secured” when something does not go according to strategy or anything unanticipated comes about. Right before acquiring a journey insurance policies, it is incredibly vital for customers to fully grasp 1st what the insurance policies does and does not include. It is not assured that you are going to be inevitably covered when just about anything goes incorrect. Misinterpretation of an insurance policies coverage can guide you dissatisfied when your travel insurance plan assert is denied in time that you most require it.

What if your vacation insurance plan assert receives turned down in time that you most want it? The following are the most prevalent reasons why your declare can get turned down:

Undeclared pre-existing circumstances

When obtaining a vacation insurance policy, condition if you have a pre-existing professional medical ailment. Some insurers will protect health-related circumstances for an more price even though some others might not. If you fall short to disclose this details, then your endeavor to make a journey insurance assert will be potentially denied when your health-related records are consulted. Test and comply with all the principles established by the service provider. Bear in mind this particular insurance policy protection is supposed for surprising injuries and ailment only.

Incomplete sorts and documentation

One more explanation why your vacation insurance policies claim can be denied is just that of an incomplete type, missing essential information or are loaded out incorrectly. Always make certain that your type is filled out thoroughly and completely. All the necessary attachments are incorporated just before you mail off your promises these kinds of as doctors’ certification, law enforcement report (for theft or reduction of product), purchase receipts for your valuables or even the vacation delay affirmation from the provider.

Participating in adventurous or hazardous activities

Journey insurance procedures have various coverage in phrases of sporting things to do and journey they go over. Generally, they you should not include excessive sports activities which are deemed risky but an further quality might be accessible for things to do these types of as parasailing, leaping, trekking at heights, and many others. Make positive to look at the activities your company addresses right before you indication up to a certain holiday getaway action.

Unapproved locations (in opposition to WHO or FCO suggestions)

Some insurers will only include for specified locations and, usually, they never cover areas which the International and Fee Office or the Full Health Firm have encouraged in opposition to vacation.

Alcoholic beverages intoxication or Drug Use

If you missing valuables, weakened a private merchandise or have an accident even though under the influence of medications or alcohol, your travel coverage declare is very likely to be regarded as invalid. Although you are travelling to enjoy your daily life, be liable and just maintain everything in moderation.

Unlawful/reckless conduct

Fraudulent, dishonest and illegal conduct this sort of as heading to limited areas and unauthorized use of amenities are not included by any insurance policy. Generally abide by all the regulations and rules to avoid any problem all through your vacation.

Unattended baggage

Consider be aware that unattended merchandise will not be included unless of course they’re in a locked hotel safe and sound or in a secure auto boot. When you claim for a dropped product, usually get a police report pertaining to the incident or request the resort or journey operator to give you a penned statement – this will enable with your vacation coverage declare.

Gatherings that happen just before getting the journey insurance policy

Gatherings that already occurred ahead of you purchased an insurance plan, seemingly, will not likely be covered. If you assert for it then it will be turned down and could even be regarded as as fraudulent.

As much as possible, we want every thing to go as planned: right before, during and soon after our vacation. But there are definitely some situations that some thing would go incorrect and a strain-no cost and easy processing of a declare can simplicity the predicament.