We all have our favourites, be it your favourite biscuit to dunk, or car to drive, everyone generally has a preference on which brands they buy & use.

Like everything else in life, it’s only natural that installers have a favourite or ‘preferred’ Door Entry & Access Control manufacturer too, which they’ll frequently put forward as an ‘alternative solution’ to projects they’re tendering for.

However, depending on what the specification says, it’s not always appropriate to put forward an alternative solution.

So, when can you actually put forward an alternative solution when tendering for a project?

Well again, it depends what the specification says.

To explain this, we’ve simplified it down to the 3 main types of specification for Door Entry & Access Control, we’re going to explain each type to you, and tell you when it’s appropriate to submit an alternative solution in your tender submission.

1. When a Specification is ‘Closed’…

This is the rarest of the 3 types of specification, however it does still happen.

A closed specification means that the client, or the consultant, has specifically named the manufacturers and products that are to be used on their project.

This means that alternative manufacturers that are not listed in the specification should not be put forward in an installers’ tender submission, as you should respect the clients’ request

So in a specification, this might look like…

‘The Door Entry & Access Control systems are to be IP based & manufactured by Urmet’

A specific manufacturer can be specified in a closed specification for a variety of reasons, such as…

  1. The client may have had previous engagement with the manufacturer, early in the projects’ planning process, or…
  2. The client has a longstanding relationship with the manufacturer, and specifies them for all their new build projects.

In any case, a closed specification means that you should respect the clients wishes & submit your tender submission with the specified manufacturers only, as the client has made it clear that they only want those specific manufacturers used on their project.

So in other words, you must respect the clients’ wishes & not suggest an alternative solution for a project with a closed specification.

2. When a Specification mentions ‘Equal or Approved’…

The majority of new build projects use this type of specification, and as a result, it’s probably the most common of the 3 types.

In this case, the specification mentions either one or more Door Entry & Access Control manufacturers that can be used on the project.

So at this point, it’s very similar to a ‘closed’ specification, but with a bit more freedom, as multiple manufacturers may have been named in the specification, so you may have more choice as to which manufacturer you submit your tender with.

However, after naming the manufacturers that are preferred for the project, the specification will then go on to say the phrase ‘or equal or approved’.

In practice, it’ll look something like this…

‘The Door Entry & Access Control shall be manufactured by Urmet or equal or approved’

What this means is that any manufacturer who can provide a solution that is equal to what the specified solution can provide, is acceptable to submit in your tender.

So in short, for this type of specification it’s acceptable for you to submit an alternative manufacturer in your submission, however…

If you do want to submit an alternative solution, then it’s up to you to look at the market, and see which manufacturers can provide an equal solution to the specified manufacturer.

Some installers don’t do this, and will simply submit their preferred manufacturer as an alternative to the project, without looking at the market.

This is not good practice, whilst in this instance you do have the ability to submit your preferred manufacturer as an alternative, you must ensure that they can provide a solution that is equal to the specified manufacturers’, and if they can’t, then you must look for a different alternative manufacturer to submit your tender with.

So yes, when a specification mentions ‘equal or approved’, you can submit an alternative manufacturer in your tender submission, as long as they can provide a solution that is equal to the specified manufacturers’.

3. When a Specification is Open’…

This type of specification is becoming more common, due to more clients & consultants producing ‘performance specifications’ for their projects.

A performance specification, mainly used on design & build projects, doesn’t specify a particular Door Entry & Access Control manufacturer for the project, instead, it simply details what the site requires from the Door Entry & Access Control system that will be used on site (e.g. capabilities, features, accreditations etc)

So, when specifying an apartment monitor, a performance specification would say…

‘A white, wall mounted, handsfree IP video monitor is to be fitted within each apartment’

Instead of…

‘An Urmet VOG 5 handsfree apartment monitor is to be fitted within each apartment’

A performance specification takes the manufacturer out of the specification completely, hence why it is called an ‘open’ specification, because any manufacturer that meets the site’s requirements, can be submitted within your tender.

It is then your job to take the performance specification, and look at the market, to find a solution that meets the project’s requirements.

Some installers don’t do this, and will see the ‘open’ specification as an opportunity to just submit their preferred manufacturer within their tender, without actually looking at what the project requires.

Again, this is not good practice, as your preferred manufacturer may not meet the project’s requirements.

So, whilst you can submit your preferred manufacturer within your tender submission, to do so, you must ensure that they meet the performance specification, and if they don’t, then you should go back to the market to find a manufacturer that can meet the specification.

So yes, for an ‘open’ specification, you can submit any manufacturer of your choice within your tender submission, as long as they can provide a solution that meets the requirements of the site, as outlined in the performance specification.

Ready to Offer an Alternative Solution?

Every specification is slightly different and won’t be as clear cut as the examples we’ve given above, for example you may be tendering for a project with a closed specification, but are considering offering an alternative solution that is clearly a better fit for the project, even though the specification says not to.

It’s important to understand that every project is different, and there is no ‘one rule fits all’.

So, if you’re working on your tender submission for a project, and you’d like to offer an alternative solution (even if you’re not sure that you can), get in touch with our Projects Team, and they’ll be happy to advise you.

Speak To Our Projects Team