Contracting with Consultants: Part 3, Selection Processes
Once the architect has determined the project scope and the necessary services to be provided, proper selection of the consulting team is essential to success. That success comes in many forms: to win the commission in a competitive proposal environment; to complete an attractive building that performs by all measures; to find repeat work with that client; and to have personal satisfaction for services well tendered. To achieve these many successes, a thorough consultant selection process includes a necessary team-building set of questions:
- Does the architect share a mutual portfolio of projects with one, several, or all consultants? Prior experience demonstrates a well-working team that is ready to go.
- Is the depth of portfolio strong enough across the board? Experience in the requested project type bolsters prospective client confidence.
- Will the resulting a/e team find cross-pollination, sparking new design thinking? Fresh looks from a well-experienced team are often welcomed.
- If the architect is seeking a new client relationship, do one or more of the consultants bring an established, proven relationship with that prospect? A consultant’s recommendation of a new architectural firm goes a long way.
- Will the consultant fees be competitive, where fee is a criterion for selection? A shared business philosophy will help in this regard; alternatively, the architect might seek multiple proposals for consulting engineering services. Fees also figure into percentage calculations when disadvantaged business participation is mandated by the client.
- Are consultant insurances sufficient for proposal, and ultimately, contractual requirements? For more specifics, please see Part 5.
- Does each consultant have the necessary individuals and resources to maintain the project schedule, delivering services in a timely way? If not, rework and delays will dog the architect’s performance.
- If an interview is required of the a/e team, do each of the consultant participants have the necessary presentation skills? Does the interview opportunity allow for all appropriate disciplines to present? Highly qualified teams can stumble if design thinking and expertise in a live setting is inadequately conveyed.
- Is the client dictating this relationship by insisting on a consulting firm new to the architect? If so, consider how to engender success with the new consultant(s). Above all, make sure “friends” of the client can meet all contractual terms, including scope, schedule, fees, and insurances.
AIA has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors. The AIA’s Risk Management Program posts new materials and resources periodically.
Read our full seven-part series on Contracting with Consultants >
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