One of the most important tasks on any project is selecting Professional Advisers and Contractors. Making the right choices has a direct effect on the success (or otherwise) of the project. Making these crucial appointments is the foundation of creating a good project team. This should be the initial focus of the Project Manager, in collaboration with the client.
There are 7 principal stages:
1. Research potential candidates
- Do they have experience on similar projects?
- Do they have a successful track record?
- Is the organisation the right size for the specific project – you do not want a company to be overstretched by the commission but, similarly, you do not need a huge company to carry out a small project as it will not give value for money.
- Do they have sound finances – it is better to check this by getting an accounts report before going any further. Such reports are not costly from specialist providers and can be provided quickly on line.
2. Shortlist the candidates
- It is best to have a shortlist of no more than six firms per discipline – it is a very expensive process to seek an appointment for a project, so you should not put too many companies through this process.
- Similarly, too many candidates creates a bigger burden on the Project Manager or Client involved in the selection.
3. Provide a clear and succinct invitation pack for shortlisted candidates
- Provide them with clear information about the project – what is it trying to achieve?
- Explain why the project is important – what is the business case?
- List the main areas of concern for the Client so that candidates can assess the priorities for the project – e.g. is timely completion vital?; how severe are the budget restrictions?; is quality the main consideration and more important than a marginal increase in the budget or the time of delivery?
- Request clear information from the candidates, including working methods, staffing proposals, fees and relevant experience.
4. Hold well-organised interviews
- Provide reasonable notice for candidates so that they can prepare well, provide the information you want to hear and attend without too much disruption to their business.
- Assemble a good interview panel – do not make the panel too large. It is more important that it contains key people that can ask the right questions and represent other departments in the Client’s organisation.
- Prepare interview questions in advance – decide which member of the panel will ask each question.
- Prepare a weighted score evaluation sheet for each member of the panel to use during the interview.
5. Evaluate and select the successful candidates in each category
- Ensure that members of the panel compare their notes and opinions of each candidate.
- Come to a consensus about the best candidate, taking into account of the specific points made in their application and interview – take account of culture and “chemistry” as well as the technical answers. Would they be good Project team members?
6. Announce the successful candidates quickly and diplomatically
- Telephone the successful candidate within 24 hours of the decision and ask them to confirm that they will accept the appointment.
- Write to confirm the appointment as soon as possible.
7. Advise all other candidates of the decision
- Telephone them as soon as possible – thank them for their participation.
- Write to them to confirm their decision and provide them with useful feedback on their application – they will have spent a lot of time and money applying for the project, so it is a matter of courtesy and value to give them proper feedback.
By following these stages, you will have more success in selecting professional advisers and contractors that match your project.