Tech savvy SMEs driving solutions to IPA, NAO & PAC recommendations

Graham Thomson is co-founder and CEO of Affinitext, working with industry leaders globally to provide disruptive improvement in the efficient and successful execution of major, mega & giga projects.

Over decades, the IPA, NAO and PAC have repeatedly identified issues and made recommendations on the need to improve delivery of major projects. Much remains to be done.

The IPA’s 2021 annual report on the Government’s Major Projects Portfolio includes 184 projects, with a whole life cost of £542 billion.

CURSHAW’s interactive presentation of this data reveals that only 6.6% by value of all projects are rated as ‘highly likely’ to meet their objectives, rising to just 14.5% if ‘probable’ is included.

As part of its new mandate, the IPA is working across government to create a step change in the delivery of government major projects.

The challenges faced on major projects are many and varied. Not the least of these is contract management. The IPA, NAO and PAC recognise the obvious benefits to be gained through adopting innovation and best practice in contract management.

The NAO’s report on ‘Transforming Government’s Contract Management’ (2014) noted that ‘poor contract management is a long-standing issue’; ‘previous attempts to improve contract management have not delivered sufficient change’; ‘managers have rarely demanded combined portfolio information to scrutinise and challenge operational contracts’; ‘contract management has been vulnerable to under‑investment’ and ‘the government will not get value for money from its contracts until it improves contract management.’

Good contract management is under-pinned by the truism that optimal project outcomes result from investing in People, Tools & Processes.

Throwing people at contract management is not the solution. People are not a cheap resource and change over time. There is a downward pressure on trained and skilled resources. Even if money were no obstacle, it would be hard to argue why technology should not be adopted in place of people where technology can perform the same function better, faster and cheaper. People should be reserved to work on areas where technology has yet to catch up.

Projects that fall short in investing in competent people empowered with good processes and a good technology stack are likely to fail.

Tech savvy SMEs are now driving a transformational change in contract management. These companies allow major projects to adopt best of breed tools in a fully integrated manner. As McKinsey observe ‘the construction technology ecosystem is shifting toward integrated software platforms that better serve customer needs’.

Tech savvy SMEs driving solutions to PAC & NAO recommendations

A key starting point is the contracts themselves. Although contracts are at the core of any major project, a number of major projects still manage them in 25 y.o. PDF format. Our global customers recognise that this pre-web format does not meet their needs. They know their contracts are valuable assets and treat them appropriately by upgrading them into an Intelligent Document Format (IDF) format.

IDF provides all stakeholders with easy understanding of complex contracts; coupled with auditable compliance and knowledge sharing at each clause. Simultaneously, it drives collaborative contract management and breaks down silos that exist between teams, projects and parties. Our customers build their internal processes and corporate knowledge into the documents and instantly enjoy best practice contract management across individual projects and portfolios of major projects.

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