13 December 2016

Is stakeholder consultation a competency requirement?

Members have been asking IPENZ whether an engineer engaged by an insurance company is obliged to consult with homeowners when developing technical solutions to address damage.

The question has been prompted by a reference to stakeholder communication in IPENZ’s document CA30 – Introduction to IPENZ Competence Based Quality Marks (December 2013) (CA 30). Our Members want to know whether CA30 makes stakeholder communication a competency requirement.

CA 30 is a guide for candidates undergoing competency assessment. It explains the 12 elements or standards of competence by which they will be assessed, and the performance indicators for those standards.

The performance indicators listed in CA30 help explain the meaning of each element but are not part of the competency standard. When assessing a candidate’s current competency, the assessment panel considers the totality of the evidence supplied and makes a holistic assessment as to whether the candidate meets the competence standard.

CA30 element four says: “Design or develop solutions to complex engineering problems in accordance with good practice for professional engineering.” A performance indicator for this standard is “consults with stakeholders”. Consulting with stakeholders is one way a candidate may demonstrate how they meet the competency element/standard, but it is not a competency requirement in itself.

There are no IPENZ rules placing a specific duty on engineers to consult with homeowners when carrying out independent assessments of a home when engaged by an insurer.

In most circumstances, the insurer should manage communication with the homeowner. If an engineer needs information from a home-owner to assist with the assessment, they should direct such requests through their client, the insurer. This helps avoid creating a conflict of interest for the engineer, and is usually a requirement of the terms of engagement that engineers enter into with an insurance company.