The Benefits of Qualification-Based Selection and what to look for in a Statement of Qualifications

When looking for professional services, price-based selection may seem to be the best approach, but that is not usually the case. Instead, utilizing Qualification-Based Selection (QBS) usually results in the best long-term value. QBS allows a municipality to evaluate professional firms based on their experience, qualifications, and capabilities.

The design of a project is a small percentage of the total project cost, especially when considering a project’s life-cycle cost. When making a price-based selection, selecting the “cheapest proposal” could likely lead to a more expensive project in the long term, or the “cheap” design could likely lead to a lower-quality product. When the qualifications of a professional firm are overlooked, higher construction costs may result due to change orders from inadequate detailed drawings and specifications, or proposed incorrect equipment could lead to the need for early replacement.

The QBS process is typically initiated by a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). An RFQ is used to solicit a need for professional services by requesting a firm’s information, qualifications, capabilities, and experience. Typically, the RFQ includes a project summary, scope of work, selection committee, scoring criteria, desired project team experience, and any additional information that will allow the committee to ensure they select the most qualified firm.

Once RFQs are solicited, an interested professional firm assembles and submits a Statement of Qualifications (SOQ), which is evaluated by the selection committee. Within the SOQ, key items to look for may include experience with similar projects, project team experience, project understanding, recommended approach, cost-saving opportunities, funding experience, or the proposed project schedule. For example, funding agencies typically have critical milestone dates and timelines that need to be achieved to qualify for funding. A highly qualified professional firm will have an abundance of experience with funding agencies, which is critical for navigating the application process and successfully obtaining loans with favorable terms.

Once the most qualified professional firm is selected using the QBS process, then a fee is negotiated between the professional firm and the municipality.  If a mutual agreement on the price for professional services cannot be met, then a municipality is free to negotiate with the second most qualified firm.

To learn more about the QBS Process and how Commonwealth Engineers can assist, contact Theresa Criss-Hartwig or Aaron Rohner, PE