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How To Pre-Qualify Commissioning Management Firms

How to Pre-Qualify Commissioning Management Firms

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 313).

The most powerful single word, open question is, “how”? For example, how, are you or your firm qualified to bid and work on this project?

One of the reasons projects fail is because unqualified, low capacity, low capability firms win the bidding game then fail to deliver. These situations result from a lack of clarity plus a failure to pre-qualify bidders.

I am a fan of qualification based selection for professional services as it avoids the pitfalls of non-compliant bidders adding risk to a project. Therefore, assuming no prior long term working relationship, the RFP process should be in two distinct parts:

  1. Pre-qualification.
  2. Fee proposal against a clear scope of work on completion of the pre-qualification process.


A qualified firm is a corporation in good standing that possesses professional certifications, necessary insurances, financial stability, extensive subject matter experience and human capital plus data and knowledge management capabilities.

Using Commissioning Management as an example, qualifications required to bid a project would consist of:

  • Evidence of registration as a corporation.
  • Evidence of $5m E&O (PI) insurance cover.
  • Evidence of financial good standing
  • Evidence of independence i.e. a distinct professional services team (can be part of a larger firm) with commissioning services at the core.
  • Documented experience of 5 similar projects.
  • Evidence of sufficient, dedicated, qualified commissioning professionals on staff.
  • Evidence of sufficient capacity i.e. one project should not employ more than 20% of the firms human capital.
  • Evidence of a multi disciplined team i.e. MEP and controls engineering as a minimum.
  • Demonstrable digital commissioning management tools. Third party tools can be used.
  • Be certified or members of a professional commissioning organization (specify which ones). I recommend ACG, BCxA & CSA.

Pre-qualification adds value by:

  • Identifying firms that can actually deliver.
  • Minimizing potential for embarrassment and delays.
  • Lowering project risk to completion.

When appointing professional services it is important to remember that you are buying knowledge, integrity and time. Generally, the lower the fee the lower the time element and very low fees mean shortcuts will be taken.

Performance managing an unqualified, non-performing firm takes time and money. Unqualified firms that slip through the bidding process are a real cost to the project and a risk to completion.

Who takes responsibility when a firm fails, walks away or goes bust? IMHO, it is worth the time to procure carefully!

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