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Awareness about qualifications-based selection still lacking, survey finds

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by Patricia Williams

A survey commissioned by the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada shows considerable work still needs to be done when it comes to educating clients on qualifications-based selection (QBS).

A survey commissioned by the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada shows considerable work still needs to be done when it comes to educating clients on qualifications-based selection (QBS).

While 30 per cent of the 150 respondents reported using QBS, 70 per cent nevertheless were not aware of the National Guide for Sustainable Municipal Infrastructure (InfraGuide), the key document that defines the QBS methodology.

“It is (also) worth noting that the consulting engineering industry has not seen evidence that 30 per cent of clients are using QBS,” the report said. “This suggests that ... there are evidently some significant misconceptions of what QBS is.”

The survey of consulting engineering industry clients was carried out by an independent research bureau, KC Surveys. Respondents included heads of engineering departments, works commissioners and project managers, primarily employed at municipal and provincial government departments and agencies.

“This survey has allowed us, in part, to benchmark the degree of success we are having in creating awareness of the InfraGuide best practice for consultant selection,” said ACEC president John Gamble.

The association is a long-time advocate of consultant selection on the basis of qualifications, rather than lowest price

The survey found that clients rate consulting engineers’ design and planning expertise as providing the most value to their organization. Support and advice were also highly valued. The quality of services provided was recognized strongly by a majority of clients.

“Consulting engineers are seen as competent business people providing complex and value-added services,” the report said.

Clients rated the level of knowledge and technical expertise of consulting engineers very highly. Consulting engineers were also viewed as reliable professionals with strong project management skills as well as creative problem-solvers.

While clients reported that consulting engineers communicate effectively, room for improvement nevertheless was seen in this area.

Gamble said survey results provide valuable feedback for both the association and its members in terms of identifying client requirements and expectations, earmarking advocacy priorities and “getting a sense of how well our industry is performing.”

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