Five factors to consider when choosing firms for complex projects

The traditional method for choosing contractors for standard projects is fairly straightforward. It often boils down to which firm has the appropriate skills and experience and can deliver the project at the right price within the right timescale. However, when it comes to hiring contractors for more complex projects this view becomes clouded.
It’s true that you will still need to find an organisation with the required expertise that can carry out work within their budget and timescale.

But projects which involve extensive technical difficulty and numerous, often competing, considerations, there are many additional factors for project managers to take into account. This is particularly the case in a marketplace where it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between contractors in terms of technical competence and pricing.

So, what qualities should you look for when choosing contractors for complex construction projects?

Creative thinking

Contractors that have a proven record of ‘thinking outside the box’ in terms of design and construction solutions are more likely to deliver a successful outcome.

In this respect, it’s as much about how a project is delivered, rather than just what is delivered. This is a huge advantage when it comes to finding solutions to indirect problems that emerge from complex projects. For instance, making sure neighbouring businesses are able to continue trading as normal during construction and minimising disruption to the general public.

Agility and flexibility

These qualities are vital when it comes to dealing with the inevitable challenges that arise in complicated works. And this is where smaller firms can hold an advantage.

Being able to adjust to demands – rather sticking rigidly to corporate policies helps smaller firms see projects through to a successful conclusion. They can provide greater accountability to their teams and adapt quickly to customers’ needs, whether that applies to tight deadlines, public timetables or crucially, safety requirements.


By their very nature, complex projects require a closer and more open relationship between project manager and contractor.

A firm that goes out of its way to communicate with customers at every stage of the project and shows it understands a project’s wide-ranging impact – is more likely to help create an atmosphere of trust, transparency, confidence and co-operation.

Early engagement

Working with a contractor that is proactive early on in the project process and has the expertise to do so – can help save time and reduce costs.

For instance, a contractor can provide a wealth of knowledge to the design team in terms of cost data based on previous projects. They can also use their experience and expertise to give a practical view on buildability issues, programming and sequencing of construction.

Personal ethos

The way a contractor approaches their relationships with project managers is an important factor. Contractors that put you at the centre of the process – rather than themselves and focus on their priorities and outcomes are able to provide value rather than simply low cost. As opposed to taking an adversarial approach; which instead focuses on profit and getting the best deal for themselves.

Like you would prepare for any large investment, research is always the key. Looking at testimonials from previous clients of the contractor and ensuring they completely understand your project will all go a long way to ensuring you choose the right contractor for your complex project.