One  of the most important tasks on any project is to select 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.

  • 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.

This 7 Stage process will lead to successful appointments and help to build a strong project team.

Jeremy Sneddon

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