The lighting tender
Perth, 24th May 2010
A vital part of our work is the preparation of the technical specification document which lays out to any potential supplier or contractor what it is that we want in terms of light fittings and installation requirements. Most of the time the lighting is being tendered out to potential suppliers/contractors, sometimes as an open published tender, sometimes by preselected invitation. But sometimes there is no need to tender if the tender amount is below a certain limit, however generally (also as a good practice) at least three tenderers should be invited to quote for a fair market representation. Today was one of those days in which we emerged ourselves in making sure our tender specifications were “fair and square.”
As lighting designers we have various levels of involvement in the tender process, depending on client scope and requirements. It is important we are involved in the final approval process as our name and reputation are on the line here so we need to be totally comfortable with the final light fitting selection as it can make or break the final result.
The easy way is to spec a light fitting and only accept as specification. In this way you don’t even have to be really involved in this process and can simply reject if the submission is not as specified. However I believe the measure of a good lighting designer is his ability to assess equivalents of similar or better quality. We can’t pretend to know each and every lighting system that is on the market, certainly not with a lighting technology developing as fast as it does. So to be fair to our clients assessing complying alternative lighting systems should be a measure of our professionalism if so required. It is however vital to lay down all the critical lighting performance parameters, besides quality issues such as finishes, electrical safety, etc, to allow for proper understanding of your design intent.
Thus the key to a professional tender assessment is first to nail down your specification as detailed (and relevant) as possible, but secondly to have the experience to give your client a clear and professional justification for your recommendation. The worst thing is to flatly reject a light fitting without justification just because it is not what you specified!