A prospective client must first define what is wanted from the project and from the consultant engaged to undertake it. This is best done in the form of a Brief that defines the scope of work required. It will usually also indicate what information the client requires from tendering consultants to assist in evaluating their proposals.
Accordingly the Brief might embrace some or all of the following components:
Detail on the scope of work to be carried out and the final product that is required. This may, for example, include
- Review of prior relevant investigations and of reports on these;
- Consultation with interested parties who have views or information to offer on the project;
- Site investigations;
- Compilation of relevant data from all of the above and any other available sources, and interpretation of this data;
- Submission and subsequent review of a draft report; and
- Amendment of the draft report to present a final document and recommendations.
A preferred schedule for carrying out the work, including start and finish dates and any interim check points.
Information the client requires to assist in assessing the competence of tendering consultants and their costs.
This might include:
- Definition by consultants of how they intend to approach and carry out the project;
- Personnel to be involved and the particular input each will make to the project;
- The experience of these personnel and of the consultancy firm as a whole, particularly in relation to projects of a similar nature to the one on which tenders are sought;
- A breakdown of costs the consultant will charge to carry out the work, including hourly/daily rates for individuals, incidental expenses and the total cost;
- A timetable for carrying out the various components of the project; and
- Evidence of appropriate insurance coverage (usually professional indemnity, public liability, and, if employees or sub-contractors are to be involved, workers compensation).
In some cases, particularly where the Brief is not sufficiently specific, a client may indicate to tenderers the budget for the project. While is not essential, is often prudent to at least indicate an approximate price range for the project (eg. projects of different magnitude might be indicated as falling in the price range $6,000-9,000 or $40,000- 60,000). This can ensure that all submissions are based on a common premise as to the detail of investigation required by the client, so that the proposals better lend themselves to comparison.
In the absence of indicative price information, different consultants can have different perceptions of the depth of investigation required, leading to widely divergent quotations. Cheaper proposals in such cases could be based on a superficial and inadequate level of investigation, while more expensive proposals may better meet the requirements of the project, yet this can be difficult for a client to discern.
The length and detail of the Brief will generally be related to the size and complexity of the job. A major project may require a complex and lengthy Brief to cover all its elements, but it is inappropriate, on the other hand, to provide a long or complex Brief for a small and simple job.