Article #051 How Can Technology Bring the Much-Needed Transparency and Objectivity in Assessing Engineering Consultants and Contractors Prequalification Submissions on Capital Projects?


For a capital project owner, one of the proven response strategies for reducing the project’s risk exposure is to outsource part of the project’s scope of work to qualified engineering consultants and contractors. Otherwise, the project’s risk exposure will increase if an incompetent entity ends up being awarded the outsourced scope of work. Therefore, limiting bid invitations to qualified engineering consultants and contractors is a must and not a choice.

The project owner needs to design the prequalification document to cover all requirements needed to ensure that only qualified engineering consultants and contractors will be part of the procurement process. The prequalification document needs to cover details on each company that will be subject to assessment if they are qualified or not. The document will include sections for company information, financial information, experience, quality assurance, health, and safety among others. The importance that each section represents for assessing the company qualifications will be represented by a weight percentage value out of 100%. Each section could have several divisions that each could have a different importance level than the other. The project owner might decide on whether the engineering consultants and contractors need to be made aware of those weight percentages or not.

Each division of the prequalification document will have specific questions to be answered or information to be provided. Each one of those questions or requirements could different importance or weight percentage from the others. The response that will be provided by the engineering consultants and contractors to those questions and requirements will be scored by the project owner. The scoring could be based on a 10-point system where “0” is Unacceptable, “1” Very weak and almost unacceptable, “2” Weak or well below expectation, “3” Poor or below expectation, “4” Marginally below expectations, “5” Meets expectations, “6” Marginally exceeds expectation, “7” Good or well above expectations, “8” Very good, “9” Outstanding and “10” Exceptional.

Using Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb the complete prequalification process can be managed. Although PMWeb has a ready-use highly configurable module for prequalification and scoring, nevertheless, the form builder module will be used to create the customized prequalification document that will have the same fields as the prequalification document used by the project owner as well as the assessment form to score each submitted prequalification.

To start with, the prequalification module needs to include all the fields that need to be filled by the engineering consultants and contractors in the prequalification template. Those could include text fields, values to be picked from a pre-defined list of values (for example legal status of the company), numeric values, currency values, dates, and Boolean.

In addition, the prequalification module will also include several tables to capture information that is relevant to the engineering consultants’ and contractors’ past year’s financial performance, experience, insurance coverage, technical resources, plants, and equipment among others. The fields within each table also include the options for text fields, values to be picked from a pre-defined list of values, numeric values, currency values, dates, and Boolean.

The next step is to use the visual designer to create the “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) prequalification form for which the engineering consultants and contractors will be given access to complete and submit. The form which is already available in MS Word or MS Excel will be saved as an HTML file format so it can be uploaded as the prequalification form to be used. Finally, the fields created in the form builder need to be mapped into the uploaded form.

Authorized engineering consultants and contractors who have been invited by the project owner to submit their prequalification documents will be given restricted and time-limited access to the prequalification form created in PMWeb. Those engineering consultants and contractors will complete the prequalification form by providing the needed data in the form which could be data that they need to add or data to be selected from a predefined list of values.

The attachment tab in the prequalification form will be used by the engineering consultants and contractors to upload requested documents such as the trade license, organization chart, financial statements, ISO certificates, reference letters, insurance documents, and other documents needed to complete the prequalification assessment.

When all is completed, the engineering consultants and contractors will submit the prequalification form using the predefined workflow assigned to the form. By submitting the form, the engineering consultants and contractors will have no more access to the prequalification form and the project owner can use the information provided in the form and the attached documents to start the prequalification process.

Should there be a requirement for the engineering consultants and contractors to formally submit a printed copy of the prequalification document so it can be wet signed and stamped, the PMWeb Word module will be used to create the template by copying and pasting the existing prequalification document for MS Word or MS Excel to PMWeb Word to create the HTML version. This will enable the engineering consultants and contractors to select the PMWeb Word report which will be merged to MS Word to create the output form that will be printed, wet signed, stamped, scanned, and then uploaded into the attachment tab before it is submitted through the predefined workflow process.

Assessing and Scoring the Prequalification Submission

One of the tables that will be created in the prequalification form will be the assessment scoring table. Using the form builder permission tab, the engineering consultants and contractors will have no access to this table, that is no view and no edit privileges. The table will include fields for the prequalification section reference, the weight value of the section, division and item within a division, scoring field, and remarks. Of course, there is always the option of having the assessment scoring done on another separate custom form.

The data captured in the assessment scoring table will provide the information that will be presented on the prequalification assessment report. The tabular report will show the score achieved by each company that has submitted its qualification. The report will calculate the weighted score for each prequalification item depending on the related section and division weight. The report will display all score values that are “4” or less in red, “5” in cyan, and all scores “5” in green.

The same data will be used to create the prequalification dashboard which provides an overall summary of the companies’ prequalification scoring. The dashboard will include two visuals. The first will summarize the weighted scoring for each company by section while the second will summarize the weighted scoring for each company by division within each section.

About the Author

founder Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with more than 35-year service record providing project management and control services to over 100 projects with a total value of over US $5 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, and Telecommunication and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training, and business development.

Bassam is a frequent speaker on topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management, and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 35 years, he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South America. He has written more than 250 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), and Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE) and Green Project Management (GPM).

Bassam holds a Masters in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – Kuwait University, Kuwait and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA and London Business School, London, UK.


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