A well-researched and comprehensive E911 Request For Proposal (RFP) is an invaluable tool when selecting an E911 solution for your organization. It allows you to easily evaluate competing solutions and clearly decide, which one is most appropriate for your unique deployment. Getting the information you need to make an informed decision does not have to be a challenging or complicated matter, if you make sure to include a few key elements in your E911 RFP.
Elements of a Great E911 Request For Proposal
Part 1: Your Organization’s Communications Deployment
The first element of a great E911 RFP is to include a section that provides detailed information about your organization’s communications deployment. For example, the IP-PBX(s) and IP phones your organization has implemented (or plans to implement), your network infrastructure architecture, the number of existing and/or planned teleworkers, your use of on-site security staff, and additional location-specific details. This data allows an E911 solution vendor to craft a response that adequately addresses your organization’s unique network and its requirements.
Part 2: Required Features
The second key element of a great E911 RFP is to make sure it includes detailed questions focused on the features you need. Not all E911 solutions are created equally, so it is important that you ask the vendor to clearly explain the specifics of each feature that forms part of their enterprise solution. For example, when issuing an E911 RFP, many organizations look for automatic IP phone tracking capabilities.
However, not all enterprise solutions offer the same degree of automatic IP phone tracking capabilities.
Some solutions only support one method of phone tracking, whether it’s switch-based (Layer 2), subnet-based (Layer 3), or wireless-based. Or if they support multiple phone tracking methods, you may discover restrictive caveats – such as infrastructure requirements or limited support for specific types of phones – that could make the solution unworkable in your environment. Only by asking clear and specific questions about the solution’s automatic phone tracking features will you be able to determine whether the vendor offers the capabilities your organization needs.
Part 3: Q&A of Vendor’s Solution & Delivery
The third key element of a great E911 RFP is to make sure the vendor clearly explain how their solution works, by asking probing questions and requesting that the vendor provides solution diagrams. This goes beyond explaining what their features offer, into detailing exactly how their solution would deliver these features within your environment.
The benefit of this Q&A section is two-fold.
- First, it requires the vendor to show that they understand your architecture and how it would be impacted by the implementation of their E911 solution; and,
- Second, it forces the vendor to indicate whether any additional solution components are required, which may represent hidden costs or management requirements outside of the scope of the E911 solution itself.