QBS Guidelines

The basic QBS process to be followed by a client in the selection of a consulting engineer consists of the following steps:

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) has devised the following guidelines to help you select the most qualified consulting engineer for your project.

Step 1: Request for Qualifications

Prepare a formal Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a proposed project and distribute to a select list of firms. Ask respondents to indicate their interest in the project and illustrate their relevant project experience and overall capabilities to perform the services required for the project. The initial RFQ should include the following:

Step 2: Evaluation of Firms

Evaluate the written qualifications of the firms and select the top three to five firms to be interviewed. The evaluation should be based on the following factors:

Step 3: Interview

Arrange for interviews with top firms. Whenever possible, the interview should be held at the consulting engineer’s office to provide an opportunity for you to observe the firm in action. An evaluation form with predetermined selection criteria should be allocated between interviews to allow interviewers to complete the evaluation form. The evaluation form should include the following components:

Step 4: Negotiation

Select the top-ranked firm and initiate the negotiation for the scope of work, the terms and conditions of a contract and compensation. The negotiation process includes the following:

For assistance, please the ACEC/ND Central Office, with questions regarding Qualifications Based Selection.


  • Preparation of comprehensive proposal by top-ranked firms.
  • Presentation of scope of work, schedule and level of effort by the top-ranked firm.
  • Agreement on scope of work, schedule, fee and areas of responsibility and liability.
  • Preparation of written contract binding both parties to agreement.


  • Project team management plan.
  • Previous experience of project team.
  • Location and quality of office facilities.
  • Project control measure to monitor schedule and budget.
  • Availability of staff resources based on firm workload.
  • Project approach.
  • Quality of work on similar projects.
  • Awards and past client recommendations.
  • Financial stability of firm.
  • Overall team ranking.


  • Individual qualifications of personnel as a team.
  • Overall experience of personnel as a team.
  • Ability of team to perform within time constraints.
  • Project team’s experience on similar projects.
  • Quality of past work.
  • Performance evaluation from past clients.


  • A description of the proposed project.
  • Any special expertise or unusual services that might be required.
  • A time schedule for the overall project, including the selection process to retain a consulting engineer.
  • A list of selection criteria (e.g. geographic location of firm, small business set-aside, or current workload of staff).


  1. Prepare a description of the project and request qualifications from a select list of firms.
  2. Evaluate these firms based on their qualifications and select three to five firms to be interviewed.
  3. Conduct interviews with the most qualified firms and rank firms based on both their qualifications and the interview.
  4. Select highest ranked firm for detailed negotiations of scope of work, contracted terms and compensation.