It has been said that Program and Project Managers inside and around the Beltway must become Contract Managers. Perhaps this is why the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam focuses heavily on Contracts, and the National Contracts Management Association (NCMA) accepts Project Management Institute’s continuing education credits for most if its credentials. Below are some tips for everyone, and specifically those who might come into contact more frequently with Contracts in their work.
Involve your Contract Professionals Early and Often! Contracts may sound daunting to many of us who just want to do the day-to-day work, but it is what allows the work to exist (after the hard work the others on the team have done to find the business and capture it). Our cog in the wheel is one of most critical pieces that can make your life in managing a Contract or performing the day-to-day work smoother.
Read the entire Contract — Don’t assume that the Contracting professional knows all of the nuances of your Program or Project well enough to catch a requirement that may be inconsistent with your agreed-upon client deliverable. Don’t be afraid to send a red-lined version with comments back to the Contracts Manager with specific questions, along with any documentation from your Program area.
Negotiate — Involve your Contract Professionals in the beginning to navigate any pitfalls and confirm with your manager or your execution team that they can deliver upon the proposed terms and conditions. Typical terms for Program Managers to consider for negotiation with Teaming Partners are Workshare, Deliverables, Project Schedule, Invoice Terms, and certain costs and fees. All negotiations with Contracting Officers shall be handled by the Contracts Department.
Confidentiality — We cannot emphasize this enough. Even within our own organization, unless someone has a “need to know” the terms and conditions of Contracts should always be kept confidential to protect all parties. Never share a contract with anyone outside of the Contracts Department, C-level management, or the management team of that particular Contract without the knowledge of the Contract Manager. Only the Contracts Department has the authority to send or forward Contracts to outside entities unless expressly authorized to do so in writing.
Checkpoints — Throughout the lifecycle of a Contract, there will be various checkpoints where Program Managers will be involved. Some are dictated by the Contract, such as audits, renewals of Insurance Certifications, and Contract extensions. Other actions will be initiated on the Program side and include a wide array of inquiries from pricing, delivery, personnel, work stoppage, and other hypotheticals or actual challenges. It is always best to notify Contracts as early as possible for a potential issue, rather than to try to triage on the back end. By getting in early, negotiations can start on the front end, resulting in more efficient resolutions.
- Involve your Contract Professionals Early and Often!
- Read the entire Contract
- Refer to First Bullet
Kristie Huber, Revolutionary Solutions