by Lori Riddle

checklistRecently we discussed 5 Tips For Painless Contractor Qualification - information for contractors who are frequently required to complete qualification forms and questionnaires in order to be considered for projects. For us here at Fisher Tank, our work in major industrial settings such as power plants, terminals, chemical processing facilities, manufacturing facilites, and other applications means that we are always required to provide extensive information about our safety programs, our quality programs, our epxerience and other key information about our operations.

When we work with subcontractors, we require them to provide similar information to us. We want to ensure that everyone who works with us on site is equipped to adhere to our strict standards for safety and quality.

Requesting qualification information from potential contractors/subs is an important part of project planning, proposals, and execution. But getting that information can sometimes be challenging - and if you're on a tight schedule, getting qualification info from potential subs can seem nearly impossible.

It's not impossible - but it can be frustrating on both sides of the qualification process. If you're requesting information, a little planning can go a long way toward improving how you request qualification data, and can help ensure you get the information you need. Here are some tips for making it a little easier on everyone:

If You Have A Qualification Form In Place, Evaluate It Ruthlessly

  • When was it last updated?

  • Does it request the information you really need?

  • Does it request information you really don't need?

  • Does it ask for the same info in more than one place?

  • Is there enough room for the info you're requesting?

If You Don't Have A Form - Make A Really Good One!

  • Poll your team to determine what info you (almost) always need

  • Get input from all areas of your team - sales & estimating, on-site people, your behind-the-scenes staff, etc.

  • Develop questions that address what your organization really needs to know

  • Organize your form in a way that makes sense - group questions/charts into related sections.

Consider Your Contractors As You Develop Your Form

  • How does the form look - is it clean and clear, or is it terrifyingly complex?

  • Are they likely to have the info you're requesting, and in what format(s)?

  • Will your requests make sense in terms of their operations?

  • Is there room for notes, comments or explanations of the data they provide?

Make Your Form Easy To Complete & Submit

  • Create (or re-create) your contractor qualification form as a fillable PDF*.

  • Provide options for online submission as well as hard copy submission. If you require originals, make that very clear in the instructions.

  • Provide a checklist for any additional documents you require, such as OSHA Logs, Certificates of Insurance, EMR documentation, program manuals, etc.

  • Make sure you can receive email submissions that include large attachments!

* A fillable PDF lets the user fill in blanks on line, but protects the fields where you’ve inserted the requirements. Nothing moves around as the user is inputting his or her information. Another bonus to offering a fillable online form - you will always be able to read the submissions!

Protect Your Form, But Make It Easy To Update

  • Once you've created the perfect form, save a protected copy of it that is available for use by anyone in your organization who might need it.

  • Make sure you're not the only person with the access information for the original file!

  • Update your form annually - and make changes as needed. An outdated, inaccurate form does not encourage updated, accurate information from your potential contractors.

When it comes to contractor qualification, user-friendly is the way to go. It pays to put yourself in your contractors' boots and consider your qualification form from their point of view. If you develop forms that are clear, accessible, and easy to submit, you're going to increase your chances of getting the information you need when you need it.

For more information on creating fillable PDF forms, visit


Image credit:

Contractor Qualification Tank Contractor

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