Is Builders Profile the answer to Pre-Qualification Questionnaires?
When Members of the National Specialist Contractors Council (NSCC) complained about the number and length of pre-qualification questionnaires, the NSCC Director, Susannah Nichol, set off on a quest to find a solution.
CDM requires the employment of competent contractors. Good management and robust risk management requires the employment of competent professionals and contractors. Clearly, therefore, abandoning prequalification is not an option and the only viable way forward is to find a way of making the system work.
The solution that Suzannah came up with was ‘Builders Profile’. The name is unfortunate – but civil engineering professionals and contractors should try to overcome their antipathy and consider whether this is a system that could work.
What is Builders Profile?
An online system of providing pre-qualification information. Builders Profile have compiled a questionnaire that covers all common PQQ information. This is stored in a secure online database. Fill it in once, and the data is there for release to potential clients. Furthermore, there are checks in place to ensure that the data remains up to date and automatic prompts are sent out when critical information such as insurance details are due for renewal.
How does it work and what does it cost?
Once the information is stored, the Member can send their pre-qualification information simply by creating a Profile for each client and ‘submitting’ it. This can be done without cost.
For an annual payment of £275 a specialist can become a Premium Member of Builders Profile. This enables them to create and store a single Profile so that it can be sent to several enquirers at once, via an email link, with no setup requirements or additional costs. If the main contractor or client in question is already a user of Builders Profile, the details are already available to him without needing to take any action at all.
Why should a client/main contractor accept information from Builders Profile?
Prequalification is also a problem for clients/main contractors. Once a client creates a Builders Profile Main Contractor Account they can immediately see the ‘headline details’ of every subcontractor using the service, and can use the online search to refine what they want to see. Once confirmed as a bona fide ‘main contractor’, they can access the full service functionality and request new profiles, or updated profiles. At the click of a mouse they can see the full Profiles of all Premium Members who have authorised them to see their details, along with all Basic Members who have specifically submitted their Profile to the contractor, plus the headline information about every other company who is using the Builder’s Profile service. Membership is free.
What should a specialist contractor do when a paper PQQ is received?
If a paper PQQ arrives on a specialist contractor’s desk from a company that is not using the Builder’s Profile, the specialist should resist filling it out. Instead, log onto the Builder’s profile and send an automated email to the contractor containing a link to your Profile.
Will it work?
The NSCC has over 30,000 Members who are all being encouraged to sign up. Additionally, NSCC and Builder’s Profile are actively pursing main contractors, in particular, to convince them of the advantages.
It won’t solve all the problems today. Some contracts are just too valuable – if you are asking ‘how high?’ when the enquirer says ‘jump!’ this is probably not the right time to mention Builder’s Profile. But for the rest – give it a go! The £275 annual fee won’t break the bank. It will save several hours of form filling today and it could save you a full-time salary tomorrow.
It’s chicken and egg – clients won’t use it until there are sufficient specialist contractors signed up. Specialist contractors won’t sign up unless they think there will be potential employers wanting to use it. But once the band wagon starts to roll – the momentum could drive away the waste of time, effort and money that current PQQ represents and usher in a greener, cheaper, more timely, online equivalent to replace it.