Best Practices: Writing a Ticker Specification for an RFP

Your company, institution, or school has decided that an LED ticker display is in order. This assumes that at a minimum, a cursory examination of your project requirements has taken place. The new task at hand falls under the umbrella of discovery and due diligence. You will need to venture into the marketplace, find a vendor, contract with them, and make that investment. A note of caution, in the case of an LED ticker display, it is not as simple as buying an off the shelf product. There are project variables to consider as you seek out a product and a vendor to work with. The more information that you can supply to potential vendors, the more likely you are to get what you want and at a fair price.

In most institutions a Request for Proposal (RFP), is the preferred (and in many cases mandated) way for companies to do business with outside suppliers. The document is created internally and sent to potential suppliers. The process should be tightly structured with information specific to a product or a project including a list of revealing questions designed to level the playing field for respondents that want to work with an organization. The objective is for a company to be able to make an informed decision based on the information supplied in the response to the RFP.

Many RFPs begin with a Request for Information (RFI). This is an outreach from a company to a potential supplier(s) to “Tell us a little bit about yourself.” The goal of the RFI is to identify a group of companies who might have the potential to effectively provide a product or service. The RFI will ask a standardized set of qualifier questions concerning a company’s history, capabilities, ownership, and other key details. When the responses have been evaluated a company will use them to create what for them is a qualified pool of potential suppliers.

Depending upon your company or institution, the RFP format will vary. For those who do not have their own RFP process and template, we have provided a detailed example of one in a separate document. At the core of every RFP is the Scope of Work (SoW). This is the narrative description of a project’s work requirement. It defines project-specific activities, deliverables and timelines for a vendor providing products and services to their potential client. In other words, it is your story, expectations, deliverables, and timelines. One key to success is to focus on full disclosure and clarity in the SoW as it will be the guide to all that follows.

As noted earlier, the more information you can supply to potential vendors, the better the end result. For an LED ticker display project, the following are the top 10 questions to ask yourself when writing a ticker specification. If you cannot answer these questions on your own it may be a good idea to work with a qualified company that can help you upfront with the design and procurement.

  1. Start by describing the environment where the LED ticker will be located and how the ticker will be used. For example, will it be in a classroom, in a public space, in a secure trading area.
  2. Define the configuration. No problem if your display is straight, but if you are doing something unique (like curving the unit) you need to provide specifics on the radius to provide an accurate price. What you don’t need is a rigid box when you really need a flexible cabinet.
  3. Be clear on physical dimensions of the ticker both height and width. Clarify if the dimensions you are providing are the available space to fit within, or if you are defining the actual size of the ticker itself.
  4. Define the resolution in pixels. This will ensure you get the right matrix for creating content and showing logos or graphics. If you want to show logos use 24 or 32 pixels in height.
  5. Specify the pixel pitch or spacing between each LED. The most common is 0.3in. (7.62mm) and it is important to clarify this along with the dimensions. Some lower cost products will reduce cost by spacing the pixels out further, so you get the same cabinet height but less resolution.
  6. Clearly define the colors you expect. Many overseas manufacturers have single color tickers which won’t give you the impact you want in showing vibrant logos. How many people would notice a plain red ticker compared to something using the full color spectrum?
  7. Specify the brightness you need. If it is an indoor environment with no large windows or ambient light 1200 NITS should be sufficient. If you are placing your Ticker in an atrium with ambient light call out at least 3,000 NITS.
  8. Describe your LED ticker objectives and software requirements. Define the 3 or 4 key things you need it to accomplish. For example, “Show student managed fund with company logos.”
  9. Outline your data needs. This isn’t important if you buy a simple LED message center with basic messaging software, but if your goal is to show live stock prices make sure you give examples of the markets you want to view to ensure the provider has access to legally supply that information.
  10. Ask questions about the manufacturer. Make sure they are reputable and can share with you a client list of active installations using LED Tickers (not just displays in general). We suggest looking for products manufactured in the USA to ensure the highest quality and long-term access to service parts.

The following lists some sample ticker specifications that should be included in the RFP. Once again, the specificity of requirements results in getting what you want and speeds up the procurement process. This also gives you the ability to compare quotes in an “apples to apples” manner.

We have listed the items in bold and underlined as placeholders to be updated by your specific requirements

LED Ticker Hardware

  • Cabinet Size:
    • Height = 8.1 inches
    • Width = 25 feet
    • Depth = 2 inches
  • LED Matrix – 24 x 1000 pixels
  • Pixel Pitch – .3 inch (7.63mm)
  • Maximum Brightness – 3,200 nits
  • Color – 16.7 million color shades
  • Cabinet / Mounting Style – Straight, flat wall mount
  • Serviceability – Front serviceable
  • Safety Requirements – We require a product that is manufactured in the USA and is complaint with the following standards:
    • UL-1950 and UL-60950-1
    • ETL & CE
    • ANSI/UL 60950-1, 2nd Edition (2007), “Safety of Information Technology Equipment”
    • CSA C22.2 NO. 60950-1 2nd Edition (2007), “Safety of Information Technology Equipment”
    • FCC part 15 Class A

LED Ticker Software

We are looking for both the software and hardware to be provided together to ensure a tightly integrated solution designed to work together with the following functionality.

  • Cloud-Based – No onsite computers required and accessible from a mobile phone.
  • User Access – We require the ability to set up multiple users who can access the platform and update content.
  • Control – We require full access to the software to allow our users to add, remove, or modify content items at our discretion. To be clear, we don’t want to have to call you to make any changes to our content.
  • Scheduling – We need the ability to add as many different types of content as we want into the scrolling sequence. For each item, we must be able to schedule when that content will play by day of the week, by a date range, and/or by time of day.
  • Brightness – Access to turn the brightness up or down as needed.
  • Speed – The option to increase or decrease the speed of the scroll.
  • RSS Feeds – The ability to find any publicly available RSS feed and post it.
  • User Generated Messages – The option to quickly go in and select a font, size, and color and then type in a message.
  • Images – Upload .bmp files to show graphics and logos.
  • Twitter – Use standard Twitter search criteria to be able to create a stream of tweets.

Ticker Content

At a minimum we require the following licensed data sources included:

  • Headline News – Top stories from Reuters.
  • Sports Scores – Real-time game schedules, team logos, and scores for MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL, and NCAA Basketball and NCAA Football.
  • Stock Quotes – 20-minute-delayed equities from TSX, NYSE and Nasdaq including options to display:
    • Watch list – the ability to hand-pick a list of stocks to create our own watchlist and update it at our discretion.
    • Dynamic Lists – to show top gainers, losers, and most actives for NYSE, Nasdaq, and the TSX.
  • Financial Data – In addition to basic stock quotes, we require the ability to display:
    • Indexes (Dow Jones Industrials, Nasdaq, S&P 500, etc.)
    • Currencies (Pound, Euro, Peso, etc.)
    • Bonds (1 Mo, 1Yr, 30 Yr, etc)
    • Agriculture (Corn, Soybeans, Cattle, etc)
    • Metals (Gold, Silver, etc)
    • Energy (Crude, Nat Gas, etc)

Note: All data must be sourced legally from the provider and the associated exchanges and have rights under U.S. Patents 7,082,398 and 7,778,842 to show company logos in place of stock symbols.

Ticker Provider

We require a ticker provider with at least:

  • 10 years of experience providing LED tickers.
  • 75 active ticker customers in North America.
  • 20 employees.
  • A nationwide network of trained installation and service technicians.
  • A 3-year warranty

In selecting and procuring an LED ticker display you don’t want to go back and forth figuring out how much things cost; you want to get a price as quickly and easily as possible. Just keep in mind that there are no shortcuts worth taking. Quality LED tickers are not an off the shelf solution. Doing your homework up front, writing a proper scope of work, and supporting that with the LED ticker specifications that you require will help ensure a positive outcome. The best advice is to work with a company with a proven track record that can be your trusted advisor throughout the entire design and procurement process. You will be glad you did, and the results will speak and pay for themselves.

If you would like help, just contact us and we can guide you through drafting your RFP.

If you want to draft your own RFP download the outline in MS Word.