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    Request for Proposals for the Development and Support of the CETP e-learning Help Desk

     
    June 2, 2005

    General Information
    The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is a non-profit 501(c) 6 trade organization authorized by the Propane Education and Research Act of 1996 (PERA), Public Law 104-284.  PERC was created “to enhance consumer and employee safety and training, to provide for research and development of clean and efficient propane utilization equipment, and to inform and educate the public about safety and other issues associated with the use of propane.”

    PERC is governed by a twenty-one member Board of Directors appointed by the National Propane Gas Association and the Gas Processors Association. PERC program beneficiaries include propane retail marketers, producers, transporters’ and agricultural cooperatives, as well as representatives of allied service and supply industries.

    BACKGROUND
    The Certified Employee Training Program (CETP) has been the “gold standard” of training in the propane industry for a number of years.  To date, this training has been conducted in a classroom environment using printed books.  At the completion of a course, students have the option to sit for a proctored certification exam, overseen by the National Propane Gas Association.

    In 2003, PERC purchased the rights to the CETP materials.  In partnership with NPGA, the materials were updated and released in printed format in 2004.  PERC is also developing an e-learning format of this program for release in 2006.  The initial release of the e-learning format will include the Basic Principles & Practices and Delivery Basics books of the CETP program, plus a module for instructors.  Other books of the program will likely be released in the future.

    To support the launch of the first phase of the CETP e-learning initiative, PERC now seeks bids from qualified firms for the implementation and ongoing support of the CETP Help Desk.

     

    ANTICIPATED NEEDS
    The first e-learning deliverable will consist of DVDs that users will install on their local systems.  An Internet connection is not required to use this program.  Once installed, student records on the use of the program are stored in a flat file that may be shared across a network or moved from one computer to another (for example, from a student’s to an instructor’s).  A small number of companies may opt to run the entire program over an Intranet, using their own infrastructure, however we expect that most locations will use the DVDs on 5 or fewer computers that may or may not be networked.

    The DVDs will be ordered through PERC’s fulfillment house (PMDS).  Each DVD will come with a key code that is databased by the original program developers (NT Concepts) and/or the fulfillment house (PMDS).  Whenever a DVD is sold, this web-based database will record which company and/or individual purchased what key code.  Each key code represents a discrete license.  It is our intention to encourage purchasers of the program to buy one key code per user, however, they will only be charged for the cost of the DVD.  One DVD may be used to install the program on multiple computers.  This database of key codes will be accessible to the Help Desk so that Help Desk personnel will have access to knowledge of the version a help desk customer is using, and for use during the “time bomb activation period” described below.

    Generally, Help Desk personnel will support the following types of questions:

    • Installation questions (on individual work stations or across an Intranet)
    • DVD activation questions (where to find the key code or looking up a missing key code in the key code database)
    • Navigation questions (how to navigate through the interface)
    • File sharing questions (how to locate and transfer a student record flat file)
    • Administrator module questions (how to access, transfer, and import/export student reports)
    • General troubleshooting
    • A “time bomb” will be included in the DVDs that will render the program inoperable after a certain period of time.  However, in the event the significant updates do not warrant the release of new DVDs, a 2nd key may be issued that will unlock the program.  These keys will be issued by email to the contacts listed in the key database.  However, we would expect many users to call into the Help Desk with questions or seeking new keys in this event.  Therefore, management of “time bomb” related questions and issues should be anticipated by the Help Desk staff.
       

    Help Desk personnel will NOT support the following types of questions, but will be provided with a script on where to refer users:

    • Content-related questions (refer to local safety manager or CETP classroom instructor)
    • Identification of CETP instructors (refer to existing on-line instructor database)
    • Certification/examination issues (refer to NPGA testing web site)
    • Advanced network-specific questions (refer to local IT department or consultants) 

    HELP DESK PARAMETERS

    Bidders should provide estimates based on the following guidelines.

    • Hours of availability.  We expect to initially offer Help Desk support from Monday through Friday, 9am to 9pm EST, however, we would like bidders to explain the cost difference of going to other types of hours offerings (e.g. 24-7, with weekends vs. without weekends, 9am to 5pm EST only, including vs. excluding holiday, etc.)
    • Communication Methods.  Users should be able to contact the Help Desk via a toll-free number(s), a regular long distance number, email, and fax.
    • Response Time.  For users calling the Help Desk, a hold message that states their position in line or an estimated waiting time is preferred.  Please describe in detail anticipated waiting time and how this is handled.
    • Staff.  Please describe in detail the physical locations and arrangement of staff (call center vs. home-based staff or if multiple remote locations are to be used.  Please note if any components of support are located off-shore.)  Please describe the skill set of the staff.  Note that application-specific training and scripts for staff will be provided.
    • Knowledge Base/Database.  Each call will need to be databased in either a new or existing database in order to provide metrics on the use of the help desk, the types of calls handled, and to build a knowledge base from.  PERC will host this web-based database internally.  Please note if the proposed solution is proprietary/licensed, off-the-shelf, requires customization, an expansion on an existing PERC database (mCAT) or if it will be a unique solution.  Portions of this database may need to be searchable on the S&T Online Resource (www.propanesafety.com).
    • Ongoing Support.  We expect that the initial launch of the e-learning program will generate the most inquiries to the Help Desk and that over time the required support of the program will decrease somewhat over time.  Please describe if and how your proposal is scalable to meet increased or decreased demand.
       

    SUBMITTING PROPOSALS

    Proposals must be sent in PDF or Microsoft Word format to stuart.flatow@propanecouncil.org PERC’s office by no later than COB June 15, 2005. 

    Stuart Flatow, Vice President, Safety & Training
    Propane Education & Research Council
    1140 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 1075
    Washington, DC 20036
    Telephone: (202) 452-8975
    Fax: (202) 452-9054

    General questions about this proposal should be Stuart Flatow, vice president at (202) 452-8975 and technical regarding the e-learning program, help desk databasing software, and hosting questions should be directed to Meg Guegan at (202) 452-8975.