Selecting partners

Set up a selection process that allows potential partners to show how they could meet your aspirations for the project, especially for design quality.

Selecting partners is part of the masterplanning process.

As a professional and organised client, you need to evaluate tenderers in a way that helps you to form good judgements about future working relationships.

You may need to think about selecting partners at various stages of your project, depending on the partnerships you need to make and services you need to buy in to get you through the next stage. Your requirements should be outlined in your business case and explored further through your strategy for procurement. At any given stage, for example, you might be looking for a development partner, for design consultants or for a team including both.

Most masterplanning clients will need to select partners after they have defined their requirements and before entering into the design stage. However, it is also common to commission specific consultancy support for earlier tasks, such as preparing a strategic framework or developing the vision. You may also need to plan how you select partners after the adoption or approval of a masterplan, to help you deliver.

Think hard about why you want consultants – what can’t you do? what do you lack? how do you want to work with them? You may need them to solve problems of time, or expertise, to break a log jam, or create a dialogue.
Ben Webster, Norwich City Council

While the specifics will vary, the process you go through for selecting partners will be similar in all these instances. Key issues for clients managing any selection process are:

  • setting quality aspirations: selection is a technical exercise, but remember you are looking for a relationship that helps you to achieve your vision for quality
  • setting appropriate criteria for selection
  • managing the resources you need to evaluate bids
  • getting access to the right skills and advice on your selection panel, particularly regarding design issues.

Read more about the two-stage tender process.

How do I select partners?

  1. Promote the opportunity
    To promote your project to prospective bidders through a competitive tender process, you need to consider how you communicate your vision and who you want attract interest from.
  2. Develop principles for selection
    Set some principles for your process, which you can then use to set more formal selection criteria.
  3. Test the design approach of bidder
    Tenderers will be tested on their suitability for the commission and the value for money they offer, but you must also assess them for the less tangible qualities they may bring to the project such as creativity and experience.
  4. Set evaluation criteria
    Define what you mean by design quality and set criteria in a way that rewards relevant experience and evidence of design skill.
  5. Appoint a selection panel
    You need to consider a range of skills and perspectives when you put together your selection panel – make sure you get the right balance between local knowledge and more independent advice.
  6. Run the selection process
    Tenderers will respond better and, if selected, enter into a more fruitful working relationship if the process you run is fair, well managed and realistic.

Examples of selecting partners

Useful links

  • Procuring quality partners