In this short series of blogs I have tried to outline what I have found to be the key pillars of reliable and effective contract delivery. These are the habits that I have found to be most beneficial to my clients and project teams. If you follow these tips you will not go far wrong and they can be a touchstone of what to do if you are ever in doubt.
So to recap, a professional contract administrator will:
Set the right behavioural philosophy for the team
Clearly define what you want
Produce robust and signed contract documents
Apply disciplined administration
But what are the pitfalls that might tempt you away from this path? Despite knowing what is good for you, people don’t always do the right thing. That is because other stuff gets in the way and a great administrator spots these pitfalls and seeks to avoid them:
Keep your eye on the crystal ball: Just as things look to be going well you need to stay on your toes. Even the best projects can be derailed at any time and that is why we have risk registers. They force us to look into the future for possible problems and use the time when things are going well to look at your risks. Don’t be afraid to go looking for a problem.
Maintain standards: Most of the team will at some time ask you to loosen the administration reigns such as meet less frequently, ease off on the paperwork or to not be so formal. Do this sparingly and with caution. If things are quiet, use that time to see what can be improved or done smarter or better.
Stop issues drifting: Don’t allow items to sit on a risk or issues log with no end date or let a lack of action rumble on. Seek to bring things to a head and inject new pace and effort to close them out.
Watch the data: If you and the team feel comfortable then take that emotional view out of it. Have a long hard look at the contract data, KPIs, rates of change, % agreed, dates met or missed and much more. Is the data that you have telling you the truth and is it reliable? You cannot hide from the facts of the data and it may give you a clue that things are not as okay as they seem.
See it through and finish strong: The final outcome of the contract is a critical test for the success of the project. Don’t get tempted to the next new thing without properly closing down the contract and that it has been fully discharged.
The best project managers set a plan, see it through and make no excuses. The contract is when all the hard work comes to a head and you must then see through the implementation of the strategy that you helped create. As Winston Churchill said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”