458 Chapter 14: Documenting Your Network Design
Figure 14-1 Network Design and Implementation Cycle
Responding to a Customer’s Request for Proposal
An RFP lists a customer’s design requirements and the types of solutions a network design
must include. Organizations send RFPs to vendors and design consultants and use the
responses they receive to weed out suppliers that cannot meet requirements. RFP responses
help organizations compare competing designs, product capabilities, pricing, and service
and support alternatives.
Every RFP is different, but typically an RFP includes some or all of the following topics:
Business goals for the project
Scope of the project
Information on the existing network and applications
Information on new applications
Technical requirements, including scalability, availability, network performance,
security, manageability, usability, adaptability, and affordability
Warranty requirements for products
Environmental or architectural constraints that could affect implementation
Training and support requirements
Preliminary schedule with milestones and deliverables
Legal contractual terms and conditions
and Optimize
and Test
Test, Optimize,
and Document
Responding to a Customer’s Request for Proposal 459
Some organizations specify the required format for the RFP response. If this is the case,
your initial design document should follow the customer’s prescribed format and structure
precisely. Organizations that specify a format may refuse to read responses that do not fol-
low the requested format. In some cases, the customer may request a follow-up document
where you can provide more detailed information on your logical and physical network
Some RFPs are in the form of a questionnaire. In this case, the questions should drive the
proposal’s organization. Embellishments that focus on key requirements and the selling
points of your design can sometimes be added, unless the RFP specifically states that they
should not be added.
Although every organization handles RFPs slightly differently, typically an RFP states that
the response must include some or all of the following topics:
A network topology for the new design
Information on the protocols, technologies, and products that form the design
An implementation plan
A training plan
Support and service information
Prices and payment options
Qualifications of the responding vendor or supplier
Recommendations from other customers for whom the supplier has provided a
Legal contractual terms and conditions
Despite the fact that a response to an RFP must stay within the guidelines specified by the
customer, you should nonetheless use ingenuity to ensure that your response highlights the
benefits of your design. Based on an analysis of your customer’s business and technical
goals, and the flow and characteristics of network traffic (as covered in Part I of this book),
write your response so the reader can easily recognize that the design satisfies critical
selection criteria.
When writing the response, be sure to consider the competition. Try to predict what other
vendors or design consultants might propose so you can call attention to the aspects of your
solution that are likely to be superior to competing designs. In addition, pay attention to
your customer’s “business style.” Chapter 1, “Analyzing Business Goals and Constraints,
covered the importance of understanding your customer’s biases and any “office politics”
or project history that could affect the perception of your design.

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