Pre-qualification issues still plague construction industry

Published:  27 March, 2013

The length of time it takes to complete pre-qualification questionnaires is the biggest challenge faced by construction companies when tendering for work, according to the latest survey by Constructionline.

The survey of nearly 900 construction firms – two thirds of which have a turnover of £2m or less – revealed that more than more than half (55 percent) saw this as a major challenge.

The second biggest challenge, experienced by 51 percent of respondents, is facing competition from larger firms. A further 19 percent referenced 'unreasonable' client demands.

A standardised pre-qualification process is the most popular thing that private and public sector clients could do to help firms apply for and win work, with nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) of those asked saying that this would help. 41 percent of firms also said receiving more contract details would help, followed by 32 percent who wanted better advertising of available contracts.

On a more positive note, nearly three quarters (71 percent) of firms saw their workload increase or stay the same over the last three months and 85 percent expect it to increase or stay the same over the next three. In addition, less than a quarter (23 percent) of firms have seen work cancelled in the last six months compared to nearly six in 10 (59 percent) six months ago when the last supplier survey took place.

Philip Prince, sales and marketing director at Constructionline, said: “Whilst the pre-qualification process is essential in assessing a firm's capability of delivering a project on time, to budget, to standard and with minimum fault, the process is made longer and more complex when contractors spend hours submitting the same information. Perhaps what's worse is that this could be avoided through use of pre-qualification schemes, and it is surprising that some construction clients do not use these, allowing procurement staff to waste time and money repeating checks.

"Construction firms are positive about the future and many seem to be signalling that the economy is improving, by expecting workloads to grow and the number of shelved projects to reduce. However, it would be a pity if such progress continued to be hampered by the vexed question of onerous and duplicated pre-qualification."

Constructionline works with its 8,000 buyers from private and public sector organisations, including local authorities, housing associations and major contractors, to help ensure that suppliers already certified by Constructionline are not required to duplicate their information in pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs). If a certified supplier is asked to complete a PQQ by a buyer, they can report it anonymously to Constructionline through its anti-duplication form.

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