What Needs to be Included in a Network Design Proposal?

When the time comes to make some changes to your network capabilities, and you’re tasked with evaluating network design proposals aimed at delivering the most suitable, cost-effective solutions, it’s important to make sure you’re not overlooking any essential factors. If you don’t know exactly what you should be looking for from a prospective provider, the process is apt to become complicated and frustrating, and you’re unlikely to end up with the outcomes you’re expecting.

A network upgrade or implementation project affects your budget and your operations, so you want to make sure that you’re considering all necessary components and enabling a smooth undertaking with a provider that’s fully equipped to meet your needs. The best way to prepare for this effort is to educate yourself on the key aspects of a solid network design proposal.

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In this article, you’ll get a clear picture of what you need to consider as you assess each proposal, and learn how to select one that’s poised to return the positive results you’re seeking. Consult this outline of key network design proposal inclusions to determine which provider can deliver the most value and fulfill all of your requirements.

Analysis and Problem Identification

This section is the foundation of the entire proposal, as it shows an understanding of the reasons why you need a network design in the first place. A prospective provider can’t begin to map out where your network should be headed until they completely comprehend the details surrounding your current situation. Make sure the proposal reiterates an awareness of the following issues:

  • Whether you have an existing network or are implementing one from scratch
  • How many users are expected to utilize the network and in what capacities
  • What the entire scope for your network is, including location(s) and number of buildings
  • What your user profiles look like
  • What types of systems and applications will rely on network usage
  • Any user priority levels
  • The types of data that will be transmitted
  • The level of security that is necessary for your specific industry and operations
  • Your storage and speed requirements
  • Your scalability needs
  • Long term total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • Impact on the business if the network has an outage
  • The level of ongoing maintenance and support you are seeking

Unless the provider has a holistic view of these components, you may end up with inaccurate quotes or expend lots of wasted time and effort. Furthermore, if you are upgrading an existing network, it will be essential for the provider to complete a full network assessment to perform an even deeper audit of your network needs, including factors such as:

Capabilities and Shortcomings

What are the strengths and weaknesses of your network? What are the sources of any interference? Where are the areas of user density? Which applications are expending the most bandwidth? Which devices are causing the most congestion? Where are the current bottlenecks?  Where are potential bottlenecks based on the upgrades being implemented? What aspects are your network designers and managers already doing right?

Bottlenecks Causing Performance Problems

What’s leading to your network bottlenecks? Are they being impacted by outdated hardware, the number of users during peak times, specific locations of high density, or specific applications (business or non-business? What type of connections (such as fiber optic, copper, etc.) are being utilized? Are there issues with equipment installation or network devices (e.g., routers)? Where can bottlenecks be freed up for improved performance and strengthened infrastructure security?  Was one part of the network upgraded, thereby moving the bottleneck to another sector of the network?

Inventory of Hardware and IT Assets

What do you already have? What do you need? What’s there that shouldn’t be? Is there hardware on the network that is slowing things down or causing security gaps due to its age? Is there any firmware that needs to be updated? What hardware and devices are running on your network? Which ones are unsafe or come with unnecessary vulnerabilities?  Are there outdated drivers, or older software revisions that are not taking advantage of newer protocols or releases?

Proposed Actions

Based on the provider’s analysis and problem identification, they should be able to outline recommendations and proposed solutions. The action items in this section will vary depending on your specific situation, but some of the ones you will likely need to take under consideration include:

  • Whether your network’s bandwidth is sufficient for your needs and goals or whether it requires an upgrade
  • A possible increase in the number of access points in your network infrastructure
  • A cabling solution that can carry your network through the next 5-10 years before it becomes obsolete
  • Options to beef up security measures
  • Vital changes to your BYOD policy
  • Ways to alleviate the pressure on IT staff and make their jobs more efficient and effective

This section may also offer a diagram of the proposed network design, illustrating how the provider plans to create an infrastructure that will support your stated needs and address the challenges exposed in their network assessment.

Proposed Products

In order to execute a network installation or upgrade, various products will need to be purchased and employed. Whether old equipment needs to be replaced or new products are needed to fulfill a requirement, there should be an explanation of these recommendations for you to consider, including:

  • Explicit reasoning for the product
  • Technical capabilities
  • Quantity, cost and availability
  • Warranty and maintenance information


From initial network assessment and site survey to full implementation and ongoing maintenance, a network design proposal should lay out a full timeline of expected events and roll-outs. A provider’s ability to carry out these plans and services in a reasonable time frame, one that minimizes the burden or impact on your daily operations, will be a key factor in your decision-making process.


With all of these recommendations, proposed products and provider man hours comes the cost of doing business. This is the area your high-level decision-makers will be most interested in, as they’ll want to see a return on the investment.

Is the provider showing a true value proposition and itemizing not just the costs, but also the long-term financial benefit this investment is poised to bring? For instance, the cost of solutions to ramp up security may save your organization from the thousands to millions of dollars incurred from a single data breach.Some of the most important costs you can expect to see in a network design proposal include:

  • New devices and equipment
  • Design implementation and deployment
  • Managed services

Failure to prioritize any of these elements could result in faulty network performance that diminishes the capabilities your organization is equipped to deliver. Be sure to factor these components into your expense projections, and consider the value each provider proposes to deliver, so you can make the smartest investment.

Ultimately, the task of deciding how to move forward with your network implementation can be a complex and overwhelming one. The choice regarding which provider can best meet your needs requires a dynamic, multifaceted approach. Get expert advice and information about how to ease this process and make the best decision for your organization by downloading Your Guide for Choosing an IT Solutions Partner.

By Craig Badrick

May 17, 2017

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