In this series on Loss Prevention for Design Firms, we’ll be covering the 10 Commandments of Loss Prevention for Design Professionals. Commandment 1 was all about avoiding the wrong clients. So the next step and the next commandment is naturally to examine how to select the right projects with the right clients.

For Design Professionals, there are many potential risks coming from many different sources. Design Professionals can avoid many of these risks by selecting the right projects. 

In this article, you’ll learn 8 questions to consider as you select a design project.

Avoiding Project Remorse

Why did we take that project?

Whether you’ve courted a client you shouldn’t have, expanded into a new market you shouldn’t have, or accepted a project that wasn’t aligned with your expertise, the majority of Design Professionals can relate to this question. 

It’s likely that you’ve either asked this question or tried like heck to avoid having to ask this question. By being proactive and documenting a clear project selection process, it is possible to avoid project remorse. The following 8 questions can help.

8 Questions that Help Select the Right Projects & Mitigate Potential Loss

When you are evaluating a project to determine whether it’s the right fit, it’s important to look at the project on two levels. 

First, look at what you’re going to design and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your firm have the requisite knowledge & comfort level with this type of project?
  • Will the client provide access to a dedicated and decisive decision-maker or will you be dealing with a hired gun?
  • Does your firm have experience with the project delivery model?

Second, look at the structure of the team and the project approach and ask these questions:

  • How comfortable are you with what you know about the management team, the pre-existing conditions, and project location?
  • What does your general risk assessment tell you about other design and construction team members?

To understand if the client is hiring other quality firms for this project, it’s also important to consider:

  • Who else is on the team? 
  • What else needs to be considered to have a realistic financial evaluation of other team members?
  • Are the other players required to carry the same limits and coverage?

A red flag should go up if you see a client who hires different designers with different coverage levels. Arrows then point to who’s left with the deepest pockets.

Firms can avoid risk by paying attention to structural issues. Interfacing with other trades and consultants if the client appears to be cutting corners on an issue that is outside your zone of expertise. It’s not always possible to ward off a project that isn’t the right fit. But by acknowledging concerns before it’s too late in the process, Design Professionals can then strategize how to best protect themselves moving forward.

About Black Swan

Black Swan Risk Management was founded to keep Architects and Engineers up-to-date on Professional Liability Insurance in a Design World that is constantly changing.

Black Swan is your resource for industry-specific information on contract review and negotiation. Find templates, go/no-go checklists, certification resources, educational materials, consultative services, and more.

At Black Swan, our clients find actionable insurance solutions for complex design projects. We use flexible techniques and best-in-class communication, so that clients can fully understand their insurance and feel well taken care of. For you this means less stress and lower premiums.

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