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Completing PQQs, what’s our BIM capability?

Pre-qualification questionnaires – commonly known as PQQs – are an essential requirement for any company likely to be working in a BIM environment. Whether you are a Tier 1 or Tier 2 contractor, this post will help you better understand what PQQs are and how to complete them.

What is a Pre-qualification questionnaire?

The main purpose of a PQQ is to help clients shortlist potential tenderers for a particular contract. The PQQ includes questions to assess a company’s capabilities in various ways. Using the questionnaire’s answers, a client can shortlist tenderers that are more suited for a specific project. Thanks to the PQQ, the employing organisations can reduce the number of tenderers. This saves time for tenderers, avoiding wasted hours preparing tenders for projects where they have no chance of being selected. It also minimises wasted time for clients, reviewing unsuitable tender submissions.

Normally, the organisation that issues a PQQ should have a clear weighting and scoring system for the questionnaire. This system should be communicated to all companies completing the PQQ so that they can tailor the answers accordingly. If you are a contractor, sub-contractor or consultant, and your clients asks you to complete a PQQ, remember to ask them about the scoring system!

General contents of a PQQ

Within the construction industry, the government requires public companies to use PAS 91:2013. This Publicly Available Specification sets out guidance about PQQs and includes a standardised set of questions. The PQQ can cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Company details
  • Insurance details
  • Policies
  • Accreditations (SSIP, CHAS Certificate, Safecontractor Accreditations, etc.)
  • Quality
  • Health and Safety
  • Environmental and Sustainability
  • Equal Opportunities and Diversity
  • BIM

In this post we will focus on the BIM capability assessment, which can sometimes generate a level of confusion and despair. When it comes to BIM assessments, the main reference comes from CPIc – the Construction Project Information Committee. They are responsible for providing and sharing best practice in the construction industry throughout the UK. If a client requests you to complete a BIM capability assessment as part of a PQQ, chances are they based the questions on the CPIx BIM Assessment Form. According to PAS 91, this set of questions are optional, but are most likely to be included in any project that requires some level of BIM implementation.

The primary BIM assessment questions

The CPIx BIM Assessment Form divides the questions into 4 main categories:

  1. BIM Gateway Questions: these are specific questions related to BIM compliance. In general, the answer to all or most questions should be ‘Yes’ for the client to shortlist you. You also need to provide supporting evidence demonstrating your answer. You can use examples from projects, or refer to your own company policies, tools or procedures you have in place. Example questions could be:
    • Are you prepared to issue your native BIM files? 
    • Do you understand the Level of Information required at each of the project delivery stages? 
    • Do you train your staff in BIM tools? 
  2. Areas of BIM: here you’ll have to list your BIM areas of expertise and again provide supporting evidence to demonstrate your understanding of each area. The CPIx Form identifies the following areas:
    • Design/Construction intelligent 3D modelling
    • LCC and LCA analysis
    • Facilities management
    • Quantity take-off and costing
    • Sales and visualisations
    • Safety planning
    • Clash detection
    • 4D scheduling
    • Production BIM
    • Procurement
    • Supply chain management
    • Simulations energy, fire, etc.
  3. BIM Project experience: in this part of the form you’ll have to give details of at least 3 recent projects which your company has undertaken using BIM. Project information will typically include:
    • Title
    • Sector
    • Customer
    • Contractor and Contract
    • Project value and duration
    • Scope of BIM services
    • Benefits realised using BIM – with this in mind, it’s important that you always keep a record of these benefits at the end of a project. Even better if you can include some KPIs!
  4. BIM Capability questionnaire: this set of questions is generally aimed at identifying training, coaching and support required to the delivery team and your organisation in general. This part of the PQQ will also help the client draw a mental picture of what your position and understanding of BIM is. Typical questions can be:
    • What does BIM mean to you?
    • Does your organisation have BIM Standards?
    • What is your current status and future plans for BIM rollout?
    • How has BIM affected design fees?
    • How do you ‘collaborate’?

Other possible aspects to the PQQ

Besides the above 4 main areas of questions, it is common to also include an IT assessment and a supplier resource assessment. The former aims at identifying IT issues or areas for attention, for example related to cyber security. Furthermore, it helps to identify the software packages and versions available within the organisation, to check compatibility and exchange issues. On the other hand, the supplier resource assessment focuses on the individuals that the tenderer is committing to the project, should they win the bid. It generally includes names, BIM role, level of competence, qualifications and years of experience.

The most important aspect of PQQs is to complete them honestly and clearly. The fact that you acknowledge a potential area of BIM weakness doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be shortlisted. What really matters is to demonstrate what actions you have planned to tackle such capability gaps and make it a strength. Also, you should feel free to ask your clients about clarifications on the PQQs.

You may also feel more confident to highlight the fact that you will be using a trusted partner, such as GlobalCAD, to deliver BIM. By doing this you can leverage the partner’s expertise and consider citing their capabilities as part of your PQQ submission. Get in touch today to find out more.


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