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    Tuesday
    Jul072015

    Choosing a Contractor

    There are many clients who are now taking on projects small and large and getting the right contractor can lead to a successful project outcome. Here are a few of the key items to consider.

    Expertise: choosing a good contractor isn't enough if the contractor isn't good with critical facilities and data centers.  Their terms of quality and redundancy may differ quite significantly.  And the expertise shouldn't just come from the company but from the individuals that are going to actually help with the project.  And even if they've done data centers there can be a big difference between doing enterprise-sized green field projects versus co-location retrofits while maintaining uninterruptable services.  Be specific when asking about what you need.

    References: the past work and accomplishments of many contractors can be impressive but getting a second opinion is helpful.  Previous customers and other references can tell you more about how the contractor handled issues, communication, timelyness and other details that may make the decision easier or shorten your list of viable candidates.  Repeat clientele can be very helpful references as there may have been a developed trust between the contractor and client over time that you might also be interested in establishing.  This can be especially helpful when you may already know the forecast includes other future projects and having the same contractor on board can lead to a better success rate. 

    Budget: for a new project, the cost is often the driver for many decisions, but your money shouldn't be the only consideration.  The contractor should also be solid financially, as switching can be devistating to your project budget and schedule.  This should be investigated no matter how big or seemingly successful they appear.

    Subcontractor management: contractors will hire others to complete some specific portions of the work; how they are managed and overseen can be another key to having successful projects.  Some clients like to be part of the process, from bidding to construction management, and knowing how you and the contractor will both engage the subcontractor can be crucial to schedule and budget.  Knowing how the contractor choose or recommended a subcontractor can help you understand how the contractor will also hold up their reputation for quality outcomes. 

    Time & budget: timing and budget are likely the other largest factors for choosing a contractor.  They can also be the most difficult, as the contractor may agree to one aspect with stipulations on the other, such as they cannot start for 6 months.  They can also look to leverage the schedule and cost as the project progresses and learning how schedule slippage and overruns are handled are crucial.  If the contractor is coy about how to respond to unplanned problems or isn't prepared with other contingencies then these may be risks to staying within budget or on schedule.

    Other considerations: data centers are each unique in their own fashion and there are many aspects that may require special attention that are new to a contractor.  How the contractor may handle these special issues should be part of the vetting process.  Compliance with regulations or your standards should be brought up to see if the contractor has any experience with requests that might be new for them - especially in your data center environment.

     

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