The process of contracting is complicated. From establishing relationships to negotiating the particulars to getting the proper approvals, the creation of a single contract can take months if not years. And, because the award phase of the contracting process can be so long and onerous, it is easy to forget that getting the contract signed is the first piece in a massive puzzle. Risk increases in the post-award, management phase of the contract and generally, a contract that fails to deliver in the first six months of the contract fails to deliver overt the life of the contract. Because of the, it is critical that the post-award team is ready and informed. Here are the three most important actions to take to avoid some of the most prevalent problems in post-award contract management:
Ensure A Smooth Handover
One of the biggest problems companies encounter post-award is making the transition from deal team to a management team. There are many risks for error, and there usually isn’t continuity with the people involved. For example, documentation may get lost in the fray, different people will be stepping in and others stepping back which can disrupt the existing relationship, and key pieces of information relating to special clauses or important milestones may not be communicated adequately. There are also usually problems regarding general knowledge surrounding the contract and familiarity with its risks and obligations.
Because a smooth handover is key to contract execution and compliance, it is imperative for companies to think about the potential risks during the handover and take steps to avoid unnecessary issues. This requires one or more handover meetings during which the deal team can explain unique aspects of the contract and give a rundown of what sort of things the management team should expect and for which they should be on the lookout. In addition, copies of the master contract must be handed over or stored in a secure contract repository that is easily accessible, along with any pertinent statements, appendices, negotiation documents, and summaries.
Divide And Conquer
It is really up to the deal team to discern the most important facets of the contract and the information used during the negotiation and drafting process that should be shared with the management team. More importantly, they must ensure that all of these key pieces of data are adequately explained during the handover. However, to execute this in an efficient manner and ensure that all bases are covered, these responsibilities should be allocated according to who took primary ownership for a certain part of the process.
For example, anyone involved in helping to determine the critical financial components should be the ones to explain the finalized terms to ensure that data is correctly conveyed. It doesn’t make sense for anyone without direct knowledge of a certain facet to facilitate the handover, as this only increases the likelihood of mistakes occurring.
Identify And Plan
A contract management team cannot be expected to identify the objectives of a contract without some input from the deal team. Together, these teams must identify risks, obligations, and opportunities and craft a plan for addressing them. Although the management team will oversee the day to day execution, the deal team can offer a lot of insight about the other party, mutual expectations, and where problems are likely to arise.
A coherent approach to management planning will help avoid problems down the road and reduce the likelihood of internal strife if something goes wrong, as both teams were involved in the planning process and thus share responsibility. Ultimately, analysis, planning, and communication from all parties will promote efficiency and accountability.