Contractor Prequalification: Top 5 Purchaser Behaviors to Avoid

By Pat Robinson
Last updated: November 8, 2021
Presented by CQ Network
Key Takeaways

CQN explains what not to do when prequalifying contractors.

Contractor prequalification can be time consuming and administratively daunting for both purchasers and contractors. By avoiding or reducing the common behaviors below you may improve your business processes and your bottom line.


1. Avoid using an information questionnaire that is not fit-for-purpose for the contractor or service category. A long and detailed questionnaire may be required when you have a short list of qualified bidders for complex work scopes but simplicity rules the majority of the time at the prequalification stage. Roofing contractors shouldn’t be expected to know how to pour concrete.

2. Don’t force your contractors to make things up to meet random prequalification requirements. A system that requires contractors to create (or obtain) safety procedures for services they don’t provide is just bad business. There are no contractors that provide all services – stop treating them like you think they should. Stick to what you know, and what your contractor knows about the services they provide.


You may also enjoy: Best Practices in Contractor Prequalification Webinar

3. Avoid recreating safety legislation in your own, or worse your data manager’s, image. Safety legislation is owned by the state for the benefit of workers and employers. Contractors forced to cut and paste legislation into company manuals are not magically imbued with more safety knowledge by using their word processing skills. If you are having contractors sign-off on your corporate safety standards you would be better off making sure your standards meet legislation not the other way around.

4. If your organization uses an electronic database, either home grown or third-party, use it to reduce duplication by serving as the sole source of contractor data to the degree possible. If your procurement, safety and project management people insist that the contractor send the same prequalification information to them individually that has already posted to a database you are doing it wrong. By not monitoring your people, and their database usage, purchasing organizations add even more administrative work to an already top heavy process.

5. Avoid ambiguous and frequently changing approval criteria. Your approval criteria should be easy to explain and be appropriate for the contractor category you are assessing. Frequently changing criteria means frequently frayed nerves both for internal clients (i.e. project management) and your contractor base. None of us likes going through an approval process in the first place but professional contractors will respond positively if the requirements are reasonable and transparent. Ask yourself: how many prequalification hills are there actually worth dying on anyway. After all, it’s ‘prequalification’ not RFP assessment.


You may also enjoy: Best Practices in Contractor Prequalification Webinar

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Written by Pat Robinson | President

Pat Robinson
Pat Robinson is the founder and president of CQ Network, a cloud-based contractor management technology, and HSE Best Practices, a contractor management training company.

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