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RFP Collaboration
6

RFP Collaboration

RFP Collaboration

(OP)
I am curious as to your thoughts on a situation.

An agreement was made between and Prime and Sub (verbal only via telephone) to team up for an upcoming proposal. After discussing strategies, planning an approach, etc., the sub decides to pursue this project on their own as a Prime.

Obviously, the business relationship is ruined. Trust is paramount.

I'm curious as to your thoughts on the ethical side of this?

RE: RFP Collaboration

I'd say it has no ethical side. It's just wrong.

Regards,

Mike

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: RFP Collaboration

3
On the business side of this

Don't disclose important information about things like this on the basis of a phone call.

Take an hour and draft a letter of intent, memo of understanding or something. Get some non-disclosure agreements in place.

Trust is obsolete.

RE: RFP Collaboration

I'm with MintJulep on this, it does not take much to draft a letter of intent, and while what they did is highly unethical, it probably is not a provable breach of contract. I will occasionally do work on a handshake, and I've never been burned by it, it still makes me squirm a bit until everyone has committed.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: RFP Collaboration

Agree. It's unethical by most standards I believe, but from what I've seen of the business world (involving companies, more so than small buisness), it seems pretty normal to screw everyone every way you can. My sympathy lies with Prime, tempered with "You should've really been more careful".
Even as a small buisness operator, I've been burnt way too many times, trusting people who seemed trustworthy. Learnt very quickly to at least get costs paid before starting, so as to minimise risk.

RE: RFP Collaboration

Keep in mind you possibly don't know exactly why they went it alone, it may be your ideas were rubbish and they wanted a better chance of success.

If they have done it with intent of deception then I think it's a little unethical, spread the word about what happened to anyone else in your industry... What goes around comes around, I'd express your disappointment to the client if they win and have clearly used any ideas you bought to the table that might have distinguished your bid from others. Even if you do it anonymously, people deserve to know who they might be dealing with.

RE: RFP Collaboration

Spreading rumors is certainly unethical. So be sure you know the whole truth before you do so. If it is true then it is not a rumor.

RE: RFP Collaboration

(OP)
All great points, thank you.

I guess I am a little old school when it comes to these types of things.

I forgot to mention, that the sub solicited the prime to get on this proposal. It wasn't the prime soliciting the sub-consultant.

RE: RFP Collaboration

A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.

RE: RFP Collaboration

Never give up your secret sauce, and if for some reason you have to, execute an NDA.

I used to count sand. Now I don't count at all.

RE: RFP Collaboration

From your description, there is simply now way to say what the ethical issues are.
If the prime and the sub come to a phoned agreement to do certain things, I would think that does not obligate either party to carry on no matter what the other party does.
The prime in this case may have been trying to force all kinds of ridiculous issues or may have obviously not been up to the task. Presumably, we just have one side of the story, so there's really no way of knowing.
It is also possible to start in on a project, and discover the scope of work or requirements are substantially different from that initially assumed, and that would dictate a change in course of action.

RE: RFP Collaboration

First question that crossed my mind is why on earth would anyone partner with a competitor who is able to do the whole job by themselves?

I work on many proposals that require partnering with a company that may offer services that we do, but not ALL of the services. A recent example is a renovation project where we are providing the architectural, facade engineering, sustainability consulting, and structural component and outsourcing the MEP to a firm that only does MEP. We have our own MEP, but they are remote, overworked, and don't do that much design work anyway. I can't imagine trying to do the same with an A/E firm that happens to have a lot of spare MEP engineers. Too risky, even if you have a very strict contract. I just know one of the architects is going to try to take the PM role from me as lead architect.

I have my own internal battles to deal with having structural engineers trying to be the architect. I don't need interference for the outside.

If you are offended by the things I say, imagine the stuff I hold back.

RE: RFP Collaboration

We once spent two years chasing a contract in a foreign country, worked with and briefed the principals involved, but when RFP came out, it looked nothing like what we were led to believe and the scope was radically different. So after spending 2 yrs and about $2M chasing it, we no-bid.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: RFP Collaboration

Quote (casseopeia)

First question that crossed my mind is why on earth would anyone partner with a competitor who is able to do the whole job by themselves?
Shared risk is the first thing that comes to mind. Temporarily combining forces also means a sharing of employees, which can prevent fast build up of employee rosters and the inevitable layoffs that follow when the project is over. Others come to mind...

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: RFP Collaboration

Quote (casseopeia)

First question that crossed my mind is why on earth would anyone partner with a competitor who is able to do the whole job by themselves?

divide and conquer. sometimes half is better than nothing at all. so teaming maybe allows both firms to get a piece of the action.

RE: RFP Collaboration

"First question that crossed my mind is why on earth would anyone partner with a competitor who is able to do the whole job by themselves?"

If I'm the less capable competitor, then it's hedge against losing to them, and there's a likelihood that we might get some intentional or unintentional knowledge transfer, making us more capable the next time around.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

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